Sunday , April 01, 2018 - 5:15 AM
ROY — In sixth grade, Josie Williams’ parents gave her a choice: play basketball or dance.
“I said ‘No, I want to dance,’ so I danced, I stopped playing basketball for just that year — then I realized, ‘What am I doing? I love basketball,’” Williams said.
Sitting in the Roy High gymnasium, Williams recalls the night her Roy girls basketball team clinched a share of the Region 5 championship this season, one she played a major role in. Again, she was thankful she went back to basketball.
The win, a dramatic one against Viewmont where the result was in question until the final buzzer sounded, wrapped up the first region championship for the Royals in 15 years. The student section swarmed the court.
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The players celebrated, smiled, laughed, raised the trophy. Williams remembers it all with a big smile on her face.
It was the crowning achievement of an outstanding season for Roy and Williams, a 6-foot-5, Utah Valley-bound center who averaged 25.7 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game while shooting 62 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free-throw line.
The 25.7 points ranked tops in the 5A classification and second in the state; the 11.2 rebounds ranked first in 5A and fifth in the state.
Those are big reasons why Williams is the Standard-Examiner’s 2017-18 All-Area Girls Basketball Most Valuable Player.
But there was another important conversation with her parents, right around when Region 5 games started, that spurred her even more this year.
“Obviously, when region starts, players kind of get shut down and their averages go down, and I was talking to my parents and I said that’s not going to happen, I’m not going to let it happen — why work that hard and let it happen?” Williams said. “No one’s going to stop me.”
Williams was already one of the better players in the area last season when she averaged 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game as a junior. The difference this year was more weightlifting and conditioning in the offseason.
Where teams could knock her off the blocks last season, she was stronger this year and no one could stop her. Williams faced double teams and sometimes triple teams, yet at the end of the game, there she was in the scoresheet with gaudy numbers.
“Every night we’re looking at the stats going ‘Oh my good heavens, how do you do this garnering that much attention?’” Royals head coach Carolyn DeHoff said.
“You give credit to our kids because they just kept feeding her — and they did their part when they needed to — but they knew where things had to go.”
Williams signed to play at Utah Valley before the season, which she said was a huge relief to not worry about impressing anybody her senior year. She could just have fun.
There was plenty on her mind anyway. Williams is Roy High’s student body president (fun fact: her older sister, Savanna, was also student body president).
“When they announced it I was like, ‘Oh boy I’m ready, it’s gonna be a busy year’ — but I was so excited and happy,” she said.
It’s one thing to play like she did this season. It’s another thing for opposing teams to know Williams was always going to get her points and rebounds.
Sure, pressure comes when you’re expected to put up at least 20 and 10 each night. Williams was OK with it, though.
“It was a good pressure, it wasn’t a bad pressure for me,” she said. “If I can rebound, I know that I can score. The rebounds were the biggest part.”
Williams scored at least 20 points in 19 of the Royals’ 21 games, shot at least 50 percent in 18 games, pulled in at least seven rebounds in all but one game, posted 16 double-doubles and topped the 30-point mark four times.
There are plenty of people who are glad Williams switched from dancing back to basketball.
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