For love of basketball
By BY MIKE FORMAN - MFORMAN@VICAD.COM
Feb. 11, 2013 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 10, 2013 at 8:11 p.m.
Bre Williams had so much fun Saturday night she could hardly contain her excitement.
Williams wasn't at a party, a dance or even the movies. She was playing basketball with her father.
"My dad and I were working at the gym, and I had a hard, tough night with him," she said. "At the end of the day, I didn't feel anything, and that was the first time ever I haven't felt pain working that hard."
Williams has been accustomed to playing with pain since she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during her freshman season at Victoria East.
She came back and made the varsity as a sophomore only to tear the ACL in her left knee last season as a junior.
"The first time I was more scared of what I would come back as and how I was going to play," Williams said. "The second time was tough. No one wants to tear their ACL two times in a row. It's not fun."
But Williams never gave a thought to not returning for her senior year - especially after watching from the bench last season as the Lady Titans advanced to the state tournament.
"She loves the game," said East coach Yulonda Wimbish-North. "She's a great competitor. I think a lot of people if they hurt their knee the second time might give it up, but not Bre."
Williams credits her father, Demi, a former coach, for helping her through her rehab.
"My dad was with me the whole way," she said. "He kept telling me, 'You can do it. You can do it.' I'm thankful for that. My dad is an amazing motivator. I can be in the worst mood, and he'll pick up my spirits. He is what got me through my surgery."
Williams played football in high school at Cuero and baseball at Texas A&M-Kingsville and had been through a knee injury.
He put an emphasis on weight training to help strengthen his daughter's knees but credits her for the willingness to put in the work.
"She's very self-motivated," he said. "She wanted to prove to herself that she would be able to bounce back and be able to play. She's a basketball player. She knew it was something she had to do."
Williams has not been at 100 percent for much of the season, but it's been hard to tell.
The 5-foot-6 guard is averaging 10.9 points, 3.4 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game, while leading the District 30-4A champion Lady Titans (20-9) in 3-pointers heading into Tuesday's 6 p.m. bi-district game against San Antonio McCollum (21-14) at Floresville.
"In the beginning, I was a little shaky coming back," Williams said. "I just wanted to have confidence. My role is to lead the team on. That's what I know I'm good at. I've sat on the bench a while. I know how to encourage my team."
Wimbish-North was cautious with how she used Williams early in the year but has had her on the floor more as the season has progressed.
"When we've needed her to score, she's done that," Wimbish-North said. "When we needed her to play the type of defense we like to play, she's done that. There have been times when Bre wanted to guard the person who is giving us trouble. Whatever our team needs, she's willing to step up and do it."
Demi Williams made certain his daughter iced her knee after every practice and game and has seen a significant improvement.
"I can see a difference in her game," he said. "She's attacking the basket more. You can tell she has more confidence."
Williams' hard work has not only benefited the Lady Titans, but it's also opened the door for her to continue playing basketball next season.
Williams has a visit to Tyler Junior College scheduled for Wednesday.
"I think I've been playing basketball so long, and I know how good I can be," she said. "It's hard with two knee surgeries. I'm not making excuses, but it's hard. I guess that's why I love it so much. When you bond with the people who play the game too, it's just pure love."
NOTES• The East-McCollum winner will advance to the area round against Corpus Christi Ray, a 78-30 winner over Edcouch-Elsa on Monday night.