Reina Sausedo had a memorable senior year for the Ripon girls basketball team.
The four-year starter had grown from the new kid on the block to the senior statesman, being named the Most Valuable Player in the Trans-Valley League for the second time while marking her fourth year on the All-TVL team.
She is also the Manteca Bulletin All-Area MVP.
“I thought this was a memorable year,” Sausedo said. “I made a lot of good connections with my teammates which in the past has been a struggle because for quite a while I was the youngest on the team. It was also memorable because I grew into being a leader of the program, and it was really cool to be a leader to the freshman and JV players and that meant a lot to me.”
But the road was not an easy one.
Sausedo broke her right hand — her shooting hand — in early December in a tournament game against Merced. The Indians rounded out the rest on the non-league schedule over the next month going 6-4, and Sausedo was back for the league opener against defending TVL champion Livingston.
Sausedo came back as if she had never left, with one notable exception — she was shooting left-handed. She exploded for 25 points along with five rebounds against the Wolves in a 58-55 Ripon win with the Indians (10-2 TVL, 20-9 overall) going 11-4 the rest of the way with Sausedo. Ripon ended as co-TVL champ with Livingston and went 1-1 in the post-season.
“Sitting out that month killed me,” Sausedo said. “It was really rough. I came back and played left-handed. The first game back my first couple of shots were left handed — little mid-range turnarounds — and I made them both. That was the best thing ever. It was so cool and it really helped my confidence.
“The first few games I avoided rebounding like I usually did as well as driving to the bucket, but after a few weeks I just went for it like I always did as if nothing ever happened.”
Sausedo ends her career as the leading scorer in Lady Indians history with 1,700 points. She nearly averaged a double-double this season with 16.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game along with 5.2 steals, 3.2 assists, and 1.1 blocks.
Ripon coach Rick Inderbitzin praises Sausedo’s all-around abilities, especially as a rebounder from the point-guard position, and she raises her game when the pressure is on.
“Reina is a competitor,” he said. “When the big games are up she does not want to lose and she is going to do everything she can to help her teammates and herself get into a position to win.
“When the game is on the line we wanted Reina to have the ball in her hands. We knew we had the best player and defenses had to try and stop her. If they guarded her with only one player we knew it was a mismatch and the advantage was ours. There were times she would just take over games and put us on her shoulders.”
Saucedo’s talents were not limited to basketball.
“Reina was not only a great basketball player but she was an all-around student-athlete,” Inderbitzin said. “She was the homecoming queen, had a 4.2 GPA and was involved in many extracurricular activities. She is the TVL female scholar-athlete award winner.
“Reina was a pleasure to coach. She had a great attitude, worked hard on the court and in the classroom. I was very fortunate to coach her the last four years. We won two league titles, a second-place and a third-place finish her first year. We won over 20 games a year the past three years and made the playoffs all four years.”
Sausedo is undecided as to her next step. She has been accepted to UC Davis, but that would mean the end of her career on the hardwood. The basketball programs at Delta College and Modesto Junior College have shown interest in the 5-foot-5 guard, and she may decide to play basketball at the junior college level and then attend UC Davis.
“I have options,” Saucedo said. “I want to end up going to UC Davis, it just all depends on when I want to go.”
MVP: Reina Sausedo, Ripon, Sr., guard
Jayda Jackson, Manteca, Sr., guard
Kyaira Jacobs, Manteca, Jr., guard
Taylor Snaer, East Union, Fr., guard
Lani Tu’uga, East Union, Fr., guard
Ala Tu’uga, East Union, So., post
Kierstin Constantino, Lathrop, So., guard
Jennalyn Laminero, Weston Ranch, Sr., guard
Kyshanti King, East Union, Jr., guard
Brianna Parker, Sierra, Fr., guard
Morgan Van Elderen, Ripon Christian, Sr., guard