Springstead’s pint-sized point guard Huden disproves size matters, repeats as POY

Four-time All-Hernando County girls basketball selection, Springstead’s Reagan Huden, was tabbed Hernando County’s re[eat Player of the Year in 2017-18. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
GIRLS BASKETBALL

5-foot-3 guard

re-writes Eagle

record book

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

Reagan Huden

In basketball, a game dominated by ultra-agile big people, there’s a refreshing new twist: a pint-sized point guard in Spring Hill’s Reagan Lynne Huden.

You see, the Lord above didn’t bless the 18-year-old in stature at 5-foot-3.

But the four-year Hernando County girls basketball fixture at F.W. Springstead, excelled on the court.

The Pinellas County native could dribble, shoot, pass, rebound, defend, see the floor and finish an attack better than anyone across four decades of female hoops at 63 inches in height.

After four seasons, she’s hung up her sneakers. But in the process, she elevated a moribund program to new heights.

As a team member under Jay McNerney, Huden pushed the Lady Eagles to back-to-back-to-back winning seasons.

That had never been achieved before over 42 winters.

SHS had never reached district finals in back-to-back seasons until Reagan came along.

The Mariner Boulevard cagers had never savored a regional playoff victory until Huden’s squad won over Tampa-King in 2017.

Over four winters, she was named by the Hernando County coaches – via HernandoSport.com – to its All-Hernando County all-star team.

No previous female Springstead cager had ever been named All-County.

Moreover, the circuit’s mentors were so impressed with her body work, they tapped Huden as the Hernando County’s Player of the Year for a second straight winter.

That honor has never been bestowed upon on a Springstead female hoopster.

Reagan Huden                                                                                  photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Huden 101

The youngest of two children to Roy Huden and Jennifer Hughes was born in Clearwater and yes, she was named after the 33rd governor of California and the 40st U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan

Her mom liked the name.

Though the Huden’s divorced, they’ve called Spring Hill home for the past 16 years.

The current blonde-tressed and blue-eyed Huden was literally born a gym rat.

Since her mother worked for the Hernando County Family YMCA in Spring Hill as a coordinator, Huden’s athletic roots date back to when she was three playing at Y.

She alternated between baseball, flag football, soccer and basketball at the local facility until she was 11.

Explorer K-8 Bobcats

Once she entered Explorer K-8, Reagan played point guard for the Bobcats for three seasons.

During the spring, she also played catcher on the softball team as a sixth-grader before switching to shortstop as a seventh- and eighth-grader.

Once she matriculated to Mariner Boulevard campus of Springstead High, Huden has played four seasons of varsity basketball under McNerney.

Coincidentally since her arrival, the Lady Eagles have climbed the ladder of success achieving what no previous Spring Hill basketball squad has ever done.

Since she set foot on the Landover Boulevard gymnasium, the pint-sized shooting and point guard has finished first, third, first and third in the county scoring race.

As a freshman, she carried the team’s offensive burden averaging 17.3 points per game while converting 54 three-pointers.

She demonstrated her versatility pacing the Lady Eagles in assists (3.3 per game) and steals (4.9 per game) .

Alyssa Clifton

As a sophomore in 2015-16, due to POY Alyssa Clifton’s presence drawing attention inside, Huden morphed into more of a complete player.

She ranked third in the circuit in scoring at 11.6 ppg, leading the county again in three-point conversions (50). Huden also paced the local circuit in assists (64) and assists per game (2.56).

In 2016-17, despite missing three games to a knee injury, Huden again led the local circuit in scoring (personal-best 18.8 ppg), in free throw shooting (74 percent), buried 51 three-pointers (third season with 50+ treys), and finished second in steals (3.68 per game).

In 2017-18, she drained a team-leading 367 points in 19 games becoming Springstead’s first female hoopster to eclipse 1,000 career points.

As a senior, she led the county in foul shooting (.756), three-pointers made (66), ranked third in the circuit in assists (4.58 per game) – including 11 against Hudson when Yanni Batts tallied her career-high 34 points – and ranked fourth in steals (3.47 per game).

Despite being double or triple-teamed (ask Mitchell), she reached double digit scoring in 18-of-19 tilts.

Besides depositing 27 points against a pair of regional playoff teams, Mitchell and Weeki Wachee, she tossed in a personal best 33 markers against Central High.

Reagan Huden                   Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

After 42 hoop seasons, Huden departed the SHS program as the Lady Eagles’ all-time leader in games played (83), field goals made (458), three-pointers made (221), free throws attempted (341), free throws made (223), highest free throw percentage (.654), total points (1,360), scoring average (16.4), scoring 20+ points (28 times), scoring 10 or more points in 70-of-83 games (84 percent).

Though she’s opted not to continue playing basketball at the next level, she’ll be attending Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers after maintaining a 3.1 unweighted and a 3.3 weighted grade point average.

Praise abounds

Jay McNerney Photo by JOE DICRISTOFALO

After a terrific prep career, area coaches raved about her ability

“She’s 5-foot-3 and she broke every record here … She definitely left a legacy,” explained Coach McNerney. “She not only scored 1,000-plus points, but she got her teammates involved … We made the playoffs for the first two times ever because of her efforts … When Yanni (Batts) had her career game (34 points), it was Reagan that fed her (behind 11 assists) … She always put the team first … She was also never a problem … She’s extremely coachable … If she was 5-foot-10, I wouldn’t have to coach.

“… I’m gonna miss her leadership; we had a family atmosphere here,” the Coach of the Year McNerney. “She showed the new girls how things are done here … That helped us care about each other … Fans will miss her points … I’m gonna miss Reagan the person, rather than Reagan the basketball player.”

Emily Gore

“Reagan was a phenomenal player … She has that ability to stretch your defense all the way to the white volleyball line,” offered NCT’s Emily Gore. “She can hurt you in many ways … She can beat you off the dribble … Forget her size, she’s tough to defend … She carried her team for four years … Her biggest asset? It’s her scoring ability. Great players also get their teammates involved … In the second game we played ’em this year, she turned it on late and just put the game away. That’s what great players do.”

Mike Munro

“At Weeki Wachee, we had a whole lot of respect for Reagan,” said Hornets’ skipper Mike Munro. “The major part of our game plan was not to stop her, but to keep her under control. For four years, game after game, she influenced the course of every game she played … She was a fighter.”

Kevin Bittinger                                               Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

“Reagan was the type of player who could take over a game,” emphasized Hernando High’s Kevin Bittinger. “We prepare to press against every team, but you can’t press Springstead because she’s on the court … She sees everything … She’s the best shooter around … If she was 5-foot-10, she’d be a D-I player.”

Reagan Huden

Huden, who recently turned 18, admitted, “I’m surprised. I’m so thankful. I didn’t think my senior year was good as my junior year. It wasn’t a much bigger improvement.

“I probably improved the most in the course of four years in my leadership,” shared the 145-pounder. “When I was a freshman, I was the youngest player on the team and barely said anything to anybody or even raised my voice.

“As I got older, I realized I had to be an example to the younger players. That helped me become a leader.”

The greatest area of improvement arrived at the foul line.

“As a freshman and sophomore, I went to the line not thinking anything,“ shared Huden. “From my junior year on, when I went to the line I needed to make those shots. The more I sank them, the better my scoring (average) climbed.”

Springstead High’s Reagan Huden keeps her attention on the game while getting her ankle taped at the Class 6A District 8 tournament finals against Sunlake. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

What stood out?

Over four varsity seasons, Huden whittled her favorite moments to the team’s success.

“Not just going to regionals twice, but winning a game was a big deal,” shared Huden. “As a program we made a huge improvement just to get there. I was so glad to be a part of it.

“On a personal note, getting 1,000 points is what every basketball player wants to do,” she added. “But to be the first girl at Springstead to do it was even netter.”

Huden turned melancholy for a moment upon turning the page on her prep career.

She admitted that basketball has been here life at Springstead. That she’d miss the other 11-12 girls who she practiced and played with.

She revealed “you might hate the moment you were in and that point, but I’d give anything to do it again.”

McNerney factor

Reagan Huden

McNerney played a special part in Reagan’s life.

“I knew coach since I was 8,“ said Huden. “He was an important part of my life. It’s sad to think he’s not coming back and coaching the girls. He was a big part of my life.

“He taught us that basketball was just one facet of life. That there were more things outside of the gymnasium. As a part of his program, we learned more than how to play basketball; he gave us life lessons.”

Rewinding her senior year

In rewinding her final campaign, Huden took great pleasure in besting archrival NCT twice.

Reagan Huden

“Beating Nature Coast was a big deal,” shared Huden. “It’s not just a football or soccer rivalry. They’ve been a very good team for years. It felt good to beat them twice this year. We hadn’t done that in a while.”

The memories of her 83rd and final game, a district semifinal loss at Mitchell, are fresh.

“That one was hard to let go of,” explained Huden. “I remember we had a huge lead (18-2) and lost it in the second half.

“That one was definitely hard to take. We got up on them, and then everything kinda went down hill,” she added. “I don‘t want to beat myself up over it. It is what it is. When It first happened, it was hard to swallow.”

Adjusting to college

Despite her success, Huden opted against playing basketball at the next level.

She decided to concentrate on her academics at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.

“I still love basketball,” she insisted. “But all I did for four years was play basketball. It would be another commitment to play again.

“I chose to focus on my academics. My mind is in a good place. I might play in intramurals or something, but I’m going to college to learn.”

After visiting the south Florida campus, she was hooked.

“The campus was beautiful. It’s a nice place to be,” declared Huden. “During orientation, the students made me feel welcomed there. I was looking to stay in Florida.”

Though she is undecided about her major – she’s leaning toward a career in business.

“I’d kinda like to do my own thing. Just what, I don’t know yet,” offered Huden. “I want to learn which direction I should go.”

Prior to starting at FGCU, “I’m kinda excited on starting over. I’m starting a new chapter of my life.

“…. Even though I don’t have basketball in front of me, I know I have to apply myself in the classroom.”

She’s making her final preparations for college.

She gave notice at the local Winn Dixie that she worked at in during high school.

Hernando High’s Nakayla Roberts attempts to score against the defense by Springstead High’s Reagan Huden. Photo by JOE DICRISTOFALO

Before departing for the 2½-hour trek to the Fort Myers campus in her 2008 Mazda 6, she laid out her short and long term goals.

“In the short run, it’s all about getting good grades and maybe joining a few clubs,” she said. “In the long term, it’s about finding out where I want to go and if I need to further my studies to get there.”

She’s expected to move in by Aug. 16 and begins classes on Aug. 20.

For all of her personal achievements, Huden admits she’s liked to known for her character, “I’d like to be remembered as a good person on and off the court. Someone who never tried to bring someone down and was just a cool person to be around.”

All at 5-foot-3.

By the Numbers:

Springstead’s Reagan Huden (2014-18)

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

Reagan Huden takes the court for her last game with Springstead High. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
 

YEAR

 

YR

 

GP

 

FG

 

3-PT

 

FTA

 

FTM

 

.PCT

 

TP

 

PPG

2014-15

9

20

119

54

98

54

.551

346

17.3

2015-16

10

25

105

50

55

29

.527

289

11.6

2016-17

11

19

116

51

102

75

.735

358

18.8

2017-18

12

19

118

66

86

65

.756

367

19.3

 

TOTALS

 

83

 

458

 

221

 

341

 

223

 

.654

 

1,360

 

16.4

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ seventy nine = eighty