Reeds play big role in JV’s success

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec The Reed family includes (from left): mother Cindy, daughter Lexie, father Mike and daughter Sydney.

When the Juniata Valley High School girls basketball team made its first appearance in the PIAA Class 1A state championship game at Hershey’s Giant Center last March, assistant varsity coach Mike Reed was awestruck by the outpouring of community support for the team.

The Lady Hornets dropped a 55-43 decision to Lebanon Catholic in the state title game, but the town of Alexandria embraced the players as winners, because that’s exactly what they were.

“It was really special to see the bond between the players, the school and the community,” Reed said. “We were disappointed that we lost, but when we came back home, the people all treated the kids like they had won. Being part of the whole Juniata Valley family is a great experience.”

The experience of last year’s state title game was also magnified for Reed because his entire immediate family had also played an integral role in it.

Reed has two daughters who play on the team — Sydney is a talented senior shooting guard who is averaging just over 14 points per game this year, while younger daughter Lexie is a spunky, 5-foot-1 sophomore guard who is among the team’s top reserve players. And to top things off, the matriarch of the family, Cindy Reed, is the junior high school girls head basketball coach at Valley.

“It was so exciting, an amazing experience that I’ll never forget,” Lexie Reed said of last season’s march to the state championship game. “Being able to go as a family was so amazing and made it that much more special to me.”

The Lady Hornets have returned all five starters and the entire bench from last season’s team, making another trip to Hershey this March well within the cards for this year’s squad — which carries a 17-2 overall record and perfect 12-0 Inter-County Conference mark into tonight’s ICC North Division showdown at home against Bellwood-Antis.

“Our basketball team is like a family itself,” Sydney Reed said. “We’re taking it one game at a time, and we know that we can only win the game in front of us. But it would be nice to make a good run again.”

The sport of basketball is woven intrinsically into the fabric of the Reeds’ family dynamics.

“I grew up watching the sport, and everybody in my family played,” said Cindy Reed, a talented high school player in her native state of West Virginia who was offered the opportunity to walk on by one of the NCAA’s elite college women’s basketball programs at the University of Tennessee. “(Basketball) is certainly a big part of our lives today. We still enjoy our family time a lot, but we certainly talk basketball a lot, and we love talking about it. Watching (Sydney and Lexie) play the game that we love has been amazing.”

Mike Reed also agreed that the family gets a lot of pleasure from the game of basketball, and he derives plenty of enjoyment from coaching his daughters in the sport.

“It’s certainly a pleasure for me to be around them in a competitive environment,” he said. “I’m probably typical of most fathers who coach in that I’m probably harder on them than (any of the other players). But we enjoy basketball as a family, and we have a lot of fun with it.”

Sydney and Lexie Reed bring different skill sets to the table for the Valley basketball team.

“Sydney’s 3-point shooting is probably what she’s most noticed for,” said Mike Reed, a former multi-sport standout at Northern Bedford County High School who is a practicing orthodonist. “But as her dad, I appreciate her basketball IQ and her unselfishness. Lexie is just 5-feet-1 (inches tall), but she is just absolutely fearless. She will stick her nose in no matter what the situation. Her basketball IQ is pretty high as well. She can sometimes be at a disadvantage physically, but she makes up for that by her understanding of the game.”

Both the Reed girls appreciate the influence of their parents on their basketball careers.

“Both Dad and Mom have definitely had a big impact on the player that I am today,” Lexie said. “Mom coached me as a junior high school player, and she has always helped me out with everything, and Dad has been coaching me since my elementary-school days. Without him, I definitely would not have all the skills that I have today.”

The Reed girls also appreciate each other as well.

“It’s really cool that I can experience (basketball) with my sister,” Sydney said of Lexie. “It’s really cool that we can share this. She knows the plays inside out, and she knows how to work the offense. We need her a lot off the bench, and she gets after it on defense. She does a great job.”

Lexie said that playing basketball with Sydney has been a great experience for her.

“It’s really amazing — we share so many experiences and this journey has given us so many memories together,” Lexie said. “I definitely think she’s a really good 3-point shooter who works the ball around, is willing to pass the ball and is not a selfish player. She’s a good all-around player.”

Juniata Valley girls head basketball coach Rachelle Hopsicker — whose own daughter, Kathryn, is a sophomore player on the Valley team — said that the Reed family’s influence on the squad has been a very prominent one.

“The Reeds eat, sleep and live basketball,” Hopsicker said. “The Reed family’s schedule revolves around basketball, and I’m not sure how they accomplish it all. Their passion is infectious as well. The Reed family is an amazing family that has been integral to the success of our program.”

Sophomore standout Halee Smith said that the Reed sisters have helped her to improve her game.

“I’ve been playing with them for six years, and over the years, I’ve seen them grow as basketball players and they’ve both made me a better basketball player,” Smith said. “They’re very talented.”

Smith has also benefited from Mike Reed’s coaching influence since her formative basketball days playing travel basketball.

“Without the coaching that I got from him, I definitely would not be the player that I am today,” said Smith, whose younger sister, Olivia, is a freshman player on the Valley team.

Mike Reed said that working with Hopsicker has been another example of the family atmosphere that surrounds the Lady Hornets’ very successful basketball program.

“Coach Hopsicker has really been fantastic about allowing us to be part of the program and to collaborate with her,” he said. “She really encourages the coaches to be part of the process, and that says a lot about her unselfishness as a coach. She has really allowed the kids to flourish in the program.”