There are some players you kind of just root for as soon as they step on the floor or the field because of the way they play the game – hard but with a smile; strong but with enthusiasm; individually talented but team first.
Reeya Patel is one of those players.
The Huron senior played basketball the right way, the fun way, the effective way.
“I knew scoring had to be there, but first I had to get everyone else involved,” says Patel in describing her role as the starting point guard for the talented River Rats. “Making sure everyone knew their role and did what they needed to do. I am the coach on the court as a point guard so I had to make a lot of decisions.”
And as the coach on the floor, Patel had to make the right decisions at the right time and therefore had to know everyone’s strengths to help the team win.
And win they did.
Huron finished with a 19-4 overall record and went 9-1 in the competitive SEC Red Division to finish in first place. They placed ahead of Saline, Bedford and Pioneer – three very strong programs. Their 7-2 non-conference record included wins over some very good teams such as Muskegon, Wayne Memorial, Arbor Prep, Flat Rock and Chandler Park.
The River Rats had a senior-dominated team that set expectations high before the opening bell. “We wanted to get closer as a team, win the conference, and win districts, regionals and the state championship,” Patel said of her team goals prior to the 2019-20 season. “Lastly, just enjoy the last season of high school basketball we would ever get.”
Patel, with her great speed, quickness and ball sense, has been an SEC First Team All-Conference pick the past three seasons. During her senior year, she averaged 12.3 points, 4.8 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 0.6 blocks for the River Rats.
She played varsity all four years and broke into the starting lineup midway through her freshman year.
“It was a great environment,” Patel says of the Huron girls’ basketball program. We had a lot of support from the school, staff, admin, and friends which was very nice. I learned a lot from all my teammates. It was tough having a new coach every year but that showed a lot about our team because we just kept on fighting and adjusting and going with what happened.”
Her senior season was packed with plenty of accomplishments, highlights and special moments.
“We had a very good summer winning a couple of camps and going 20-2,” she said. “We got really close as a team and that went along into the season as well. We had one of the highest MPR’s in the state so being able to compete with that and have the record we had was nice.”
Patel also hit the game-winner against a very good Bedford team in a key SEC Red Division win.
“And our coaches surprised us with pink uniforms for Valentine’s Day and got us these other gifts,” she said.
The River Rats’ season ended in a tough District final loss to Saline at Lincoln HS. Here is how the “coach on the floor” broke down the game with the Hornets.
“I feel like we started off well,” she says. “In the past two match-ups we had let them get in rhythm from the first quarter which made it hard to dig ourselves out of the hole. We weren’t playing our best basketball and were still up going into halftime. The third quarter we started off strong by pressuring them. Then they went on their run and kept it from there.
“They are a great team and have great players, and they came clutch when they needed it so respect to them. I’ve been told that basketball is a game of runs and I would’ve loved to have won that district championship but they went on their run at the right time.”
Reeya, the daughter of Subhash and Priti Patel, had a 3.993 GPA and kept quite busy during her four years at Huron HS. She was a member of the Exec Board, NHS, Peer Facilitating (trained to help kids who need to talk about their problems), Peer Connections (helping special-ed kids with school work), and was on the Parent Student Panel for incoming freshman and their parents.
Basketball, however, was her only sport and one she took very seriously.
Patel looks back at her high school career with plenty of pride for what she helped accomplish on the court but also the memories created off the court.
“I’m most proud of my growth as an individual,” she says. “I was a captain for two years and it had more responsibilities than I had expected. I learned a lot from the people who played before me.
“I always played with a chip on my shoulder through the injuries and all. Lots of ups and downs, but I helped my team fight through it and stay strong.
“As a team, we just wanted to prove people wrong. We had mostly all seniors so it was a lot of us trying to enjoy the time we had together because not everyone is going to continue playing in college.”
Patel, who played AAU with the Michigan Storm, will continue playing basketball at the next level.
“I committed to Amherst in Massachusetts,” she says. “I will be playing basketball and want to do something in the field of medicine but I’m not 100 percent sure in what area.”
The folks at Amherst are certainly going to enjoy watching her play the game – because she plays it the right way.