Southern California's High School Sports Blog

Girls Hoops: Player of the Year

Reili Richardson is the 2015-16 OC Sidelines Player of the Year. Photo/Josh Barber.

Reili Richardson is the 2015-16 OC Sidelines Player of the Year. Photo/Josh Barber.

The Brea Olinda Ladycats have had some big names come through the campus over the years such as Jeanette Pohlen and Chelsea Trotter. We may have to add another name to that list.

Reili Richardson came in with a different coach, but after her freshman year she got a new coach and a familiar name at Brea Olinda, Jeff Sink. The Ladycats hadn’t won a State Championship since 2009, the same year they were the National Champions by Max Preps.

The goal for Sink and Richardson was to keep the Ladycats on top after a few titleless seasons, which is dismal for one of the most powerful and well-respected programs in the county in any sport.

The Ladycats were unable to get a CIF-SS title this season, in the brutal Open Division, but they made the most of a second opportunity in the CIF State playoffs and finally took home a state title. It looks like Richardson has restored order for the Ladycats with her outstanding effort in the 2015-16 season.

“Reili Richardson is a once in a decade player or a once in a career for a coach,” Ladycats coach Jeff Sink said. “She has matured every year. She started out as a freshman as a fragile, talented kid and she’s still fragile, but she has developed the heart of a lion. She’s fearless going left or right to the hole and shooting 3s. She has been on a mission for a year and a half. She basically put the team and the whole program on her back. With Reili Richardson you are able to win a lot of games for a young team. She will be missed.”

Once in a career, that says a lot being with the big names that have come through the program. Richardson has brought Brea Olinda back to the national spotlight. Richardson averaged 21.2 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game and 2.2 steals per game with season-highs of 32 points against Mission Hills Alemany in the So Cal Regional quarterfinals, a game where they got their revenge after losing to Alemany in the CIF Open Division consolation round. She also had eight assists against Gardena Serra at the Ladycat Classic championship game, five steals twice against Fairmont Prep and Foothill, four blocks against Troy at the MLK Shootout and Norco at the Ladycat Classic semifinals and eight rebounds against San Bernardino Cajon at the Tournament of Champions in Arizona, Sacramento McClatchy at the West Coast Jamboree and Foothill. Richardson can put her name with the best in Ladycat history as she is the 2015-16 OC Sidelines Player of the Year.

“We pushed each other to get better,” Ladycat center Tyiona Watkins said. “We could have never be as good as we are unless we pushed ourselves.”

OC SIDELINE PLAYER OF THE YEAR Q&A

Reili Richardson of Brea Olinda. Photo/Ladycat Basketball.

Reili Richardson of Brea Olinda. Photo/Ladycat Basketball.

Name: Reili Richardson

High school: Brea Olinda

Graduation Year: 2016

Height, weight: 5-11, 130

Position: Guard

Nickname: Rei

Twitter: @reilirich

Can you describe what this season has been like?

Richardson: “I think we have had an unbelievable season. Having a team so young (with only one senior and 13 underclassmen) and still winning big games is very impressive. I think we’ve shocked a lot of people.”

What did you learn about yourself this season?

Richardson: “I learned that for my team to be successful like we have, I needed to step up and lead. Basketball is a passion and I really enjoy it.”

What was the most memorable moment of your high school career?

Richardson: “Playing Mater Dei last year at home with such a big crowd, even though we lost. The atmosphere was one to remember!”

Reili Richardson of Brea Olinda led the Ladycats to the CIF Division 1 state championship in 2016. Photo/Jon Lofdahl.

Reili Richardson of Brea Olinda led the Ladycats to the CIF Division 1 state championship in 2016. Photo/Jon Lofdahl.

What has been the best advice you’ve been given in your basketball career?

Richardson: “To those much is given, much is expected.”

Who was the opposing player you respected the most?

Richardson: “Kianna Smith (of Troy).”

Brea Olinda basketball isn’t successful without…(and why?)

Richardson: “Coach Sink. He is the heart of this program and I believe the best coach around.”

Where do you see Brea Olinda at next season?

Richardson: “I think they will be fine. With a coach like Sink, there’s no way they won’t be.”

You head to Arizona State next year. What should we expect from you and the Sun Devils?

Richardson: “I hope to win a Pac-12 championship and get to the Final Four. I’m really excited!”

Is there anyone you want to thank or recognize?

Richardson: “I’d like to thank my family for all their support and time they have put in to help with my success. Also, like to thank all of the coaches that have helped me get this far and of course my teammates, you have all made my basketball experience so fun. Thanks for the endless memories!”

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