Before the season started, Northeast coach Londaryl Perry had a heart-to-heart talk with senior LaNesia Williams.
It was simply to tell Williams how to handle the approaching season, one that started with few expectations for a new-look team featuring four players who had never played organized basketball.
“You must remain positive with this group,” Perry told her. “I don’t care how frustrated you get. I don’t care how mad you get. You’ve got to understand the level in which you play and the level in which they play. Your examples will help them come up.”
Williams did more than just lead by example.
A typical practice featured her coaching her teammates by running drills, stopping drills to make corrections and more. That resulted in the Vikings finishing the season 15-10 and one game shy of returning to the Class 2A state tournament.
Williams, who has signed with Oklahoma, put on display her true value, earning The Oklahoman’s Super 5 honors.
“I think it really made me a better player,” Williams said. “I think it gives me a better feel for the game. Being able to direct and do things like that, it helps me have a better understanding. It feels good to be able to lead them in that way as well.
“As far as going into the season next year at OU, I look forward to doing the same thing trying to be a leader.”
Williams averaged 25.2 points per game this season and finished with more than 1,500 career points.
Her impressive numbers this season came despite seeing nearly every defense possible, including the unusual strategy implemented by Fairview in which all five defenders waited for her at the half-court line.
It didn’t work, as she passed to an open teammate under the basket.
“It was actually kind of fun,” Williams said. “I looked at it as a challenge. Basically, I was face-guarded almost every single game or double-teamed. I just looked at it as a challenge and I just thought it was funny sometimes. Fairview running all of their girls at me just doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Funny or not, it was what teams had to do to have even a small chance of slowing her down.
Williams is better from it, too.
“I just think it’s going to make her a better player overall, and she’s handled it well for the most part,” Perry said earlier this season.
Williams certainly handled her teammates well this season.
“I just tried to be a big sister to them and lead them in every way I could,” she said. “I tried to be an example in practice; I tried to push them.
“I feel like with the season we had, that should give them motivation going into next year. Knowing the kind of girls we had, how we started the year and how we finished just makes me extremely proud.”