By Nate Thompson

EGELSTON TOWNSHIP – Hannah Reinhold had her hopes up a few years ago when her varsity basketball coach, Terry DeJonge, presented her with a small gift around Christmas.LSJ Logo incert

She had been trying to convince DeJonge for years to give her a copy of the key to the Oakridge gymnasium, so she could shoot at any time she desired.

Hannah Reinhold. Photo/Sherry Wahr

Hannah Reinhold. Photo/Sherry Wahr

She thought her wish was coming true. She had no idea it was a gag gift.

“I gave her a gift with a key in the box and you should have seen her eyes light up,” DeJonge said with a laugh. “She asks, ‘Is this the key to the gym?’ and I said, “Yeah it’s a key, but not the one to the gym. I can’t do that.’

“You would have thought that was a million-dollar gift. For her, that would have been better than a key to the city.”

That was just another example of the passion that Reinhold has for basketball.

DeJonge has noticed that passion since he first watched Reinhold shoot at open gym sessions as a first-grader, and later when she became a varsity team manager.

Now, in her third varsity season, Reinhold is arguably one of the best shooting guards in West Michigan. She’s a 5-foot-9 sharpshooter with a quick and deadly stroke from 3-point range.

“I’ll do anything to help my team win,” Reinhold said. “If that means sitting on the bench, I’ll do it. If that means shooting threes and trying to spark my team, I don’t mind that either.”

DeJonge clearly presfers the latter. In fact, he told his team in the preseason that the returning honorable mention Class B All-tater has the green light to shoot any time she wants.

Hannah Reinhold leads her Eagle team with

Hannah Reinhold leads her Eagle team with 20 points per game and averages six rebounds, three assists and two steals per game. Photo/Sherry Wahr

And if anyone calls her a ball hog, they would be sitting next to him on the bench.

“That’s a true story,” DeJonge said.

It’s an easy coaching strategy, especially with the offensive output that Reinhold’s capable of.

A good example is a recent game against Shelby, when she connected on seven 3-pointers and tied her career high with 31 points.

But Reinhold is much more than a deadly shooter, and her season stats provide the proof. Through 12 games, she is averaging 20 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Her output is a big reason why the Eagles are 10-2 overall and 8-0 in the West Michigan Conference.

Reinhold said she takes pride in being a complete player, much like one of her idols, former Oakridge standout Keyara Wiard, who is a junior on the Grand Valley State University women’s basketball team.

“She’s helped me so much and she’s been a big influence on me,” Reinhold said. “There’s been so many times when she’s been around and has rebounded for me while I shoot, or played against me 1-on-1.”

Reinhold was in middle school when Wiard began to mentor her and other players. Reinhold said she always admired Wiard’s confidence on the court and her stubbornness.

“I say she’s stubborn because she’s willing to knock down any barriers,” Reinhold said. “People thought she couldn’t (college basketball) coming from a small school, but she did.

“She’s the big reason why I want to play college basketball.”

DeJong said Reinhold has done a good job of stepping into the role of vocal team leader, often giving encouragement to teammates when times get tough.

This year those teammates include Keyara Wiard’s younger sister, freshman Sophia Wiard, who has burst onto the scene as the Eagles’ standout point guard.

Wiard is averaging 14 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and four steals per contest.

“I’m very impressed with her game,” Reinhold said. “I’ve played with her for a long time. She’s my basketball buddy. I’ve dreamed about playing on varsity with her and it’s exciting that it’s happening now.”

Although they dropped a pair of tough games to Class A Muskegon and Mona Shores earlier in the season, the Eagles should be favored to run the table in the West Michigan Conference and potentially unseat Spring Lake as Class B district champion.

“My goals are to be playing for conference titles, district and regional championships and go on to win state,” Reinhold said. “I think it’s a goal that any basketball player would want to accomplish.”