South Salem senior guard Katie McWilliams, the All-USA Mid-Valley American Family Insurance girls basketball player of the year, inside the Saxons gymnasium, on Wednesday, March 25, 2015, in Salem.
Every so often someone will come up to Katie McWilliams and tell her they just watched the Youtube video of her hitting a half-court shot at halftime of a South Salem basketball game from when she was 11 years old.
In the video she launches the shot, banks it in sharply off the backboard then calmly walks over to collect a t-shirt for making the shot, acting like she didn’t care if she made it or not.
“It’s just like winning those awards this year,” McWilliams says. “I don’t make a big deal out of it, I just take it and I’m just blessed with what I got.”
She hauled in a bunch of them.
Since the 6-foot-2 do-everything senior led South Salem to its first state championship in 39 years, she’s received a cascade of honors and has a full schedule until she starts her college career at Oregon State in June.
She was chosen the Gatorade Oregon girls basketball layer of the year, the Greater Valley Conference Player of the Year, a first-team all-Class 6A state tournament selection and is the American Family Insurance All-USA Mid-Valley girls basketball Player of the Year.
McWilliams has been selected to play in the American Family Insurance High School 3-point Championships on April 1 in Carmel, Indiana and the April 18 Northwest Shootout at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.
That’s what happens when a player who is as physically gifted as McWilliams is combines that with a knowledge of the game and a desire to get better.
“She’s got stronger and she’s developed different parts of her game,” said Nick McWilliams, South Salem’s coach and Katie’s father. “This year she was able to go inside a little bit and have an inside presence there, which we needed. Defensively, she’s been able to guard a lot of different types of players.
“In the tournament she had to guard big players, other times she was able to defend perimeter players, and do a nice job with them. I think her full game has really developed a little more every year.”
McWilliams averaged a career-high 15.5 points per game along with 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a senior.
More important for McWilliams, though, was winning the elusive state championship.
“Me and Erin (McNally), we wanted to get a state championship since freshman year, and we knew we could do it if we kept building our skills, and just the people that came into South were all great players, also,” said McWilliams, who has a 3.89 GPA.
“So just team chemistry and team talent, we put it all together and were able to have a great season. We were undefeated against Oregon teams and got the state championship so couldn’t be happier with our result.”
McWilliams actually took time off after the season and went to Arizona for Spring Break.
She picked up a tan and enjoyed herself, but as soon as she was back home in Oregon she was practicing for the upcoming 3-point competition.
“I mean I’m ready to get back to it just because I feel like I need to keep staying in shape, and I’m going to be doing a 3-point contest here coming up so I need to keep shooting and stuff, but definitely relaxing and it’s good for my legs just to get a little break,” she said.
“My knees have been bad for quite a while. It’s just nice to be off them for a little bit. And just have a little relaxing time, friends time. It was nice to be away from Oregon for a little bit, too, and be in the sun, but I’m ready to be back playing and staying in shape.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6701 or follow at twitter.com/bpoehler
School: South Salem
Statistics: McWilliams averaged 15.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 rebounds per game.
Honors: First-team all-Greater Valley Conference; Greater Valley Conference player of the year; Gatorade Oregon player of the year; first-team All-Class 6A state tournament; first-team all-Nike Interstate Shootout.