Reeves relentless in title quest, Ford, Cauthron not satisfied with two state runners-up
Reeves has reached new heights in girls basketball over the past three years with a pair of state runner-up finishes in Class C. Helping lead the way were juniors Maddi Ford and Faith Cauthron.
Ford, a guard, leads the team on and off the court, while Cauthron provides an inside presence on the floor and makes sure there is always a positive atmosphere around the team off the court.
The duo have played varsity ball since the seventh grade and helped the Raiders reach the state tournament as eighth-graders.
Cauthron said Ford’s leadership skills were apparent even as a middle schooler.
“She is very sweet and funny off the floor, but also honest and outspoken,” Cauthron said of Ford. “She is definitely a character and has always been the leader of the team. She could always tell the other girls what she thought we should do. She is very smart when it comes to the game. She knows what’s happening and is able to give advice.”
Ford took on a larger role in eighth grade when leading scorer Claire Dunnehoo was injured.
“It was hard at first because she was an allaround player for us,” Ford said. “We were struggling after she got hurt, but I had to step up. We won a game after losing 12 straight and I thought ‘You know what, we got this.’”
The Raiders finished strong and reached the state final where they lost to Plainview. Last year the Raiders reached the title game again only to lose to Hicks. Ford averaged 14 points and 4.0 assists last year. Cauthron averaged 13 points and 15 rebounds.
Dunnehoo, an all-state guard, graduated in the spring but Ford said the Raiders are not lowering expectations.
“We’re still going to be a strong team,” she said. “We compete and have heart. We’re going to play a lot faster and our defense has gotten a lot better over the summer.”
The Raiders have been playing teams from larger classes at summer camps. Ford said she likes facing a high level of competition.
“It makes us better as a team,” she said. “The competition is great. Those teams like to go hard and we don’t back down.”
Ford said scoring has been her focus this summer.
“I’m working on my shooting, using my left hand and pretty much everything else,” she said. “Right now I think my strong suits are leading the team and handing the ball under pressure. I’m not selfish with the ball and like to assist my teammates.”
Cauthron is a frequent target of Ford’s passing. Ford said the junior forward is rugged on the court but gentle away from it.
“Faith is a loving person, she brings life to everything,” Ford said. “Even if we lose a game she finds a way to make things positive, make people laugh. She is a good rebounder, good at blocking out and she can post up and finish.”
Cauthron said it took her a while to develop as a player.
“I started playing when I was five. I was big but not good,” she said. “The summer before I started eighth grade I really improved a lot. I got better at shooting from the mid-range, rebounding and handling the ball with confidence in big games. Now I think rebounding and bullying people under the goal on offense and defense are my strong suits. I’m working on ballhanding, but can still get better at everything.”
Cauthron said the Raiders have players ready to step up in their quest for a state title.
“Definitely my sister Hope, she is a lot like Clare in how they play — very aggressive going to the hole and very athletic,” she said. “She can shoot and handle the ball. Kelsey Williams is a sharp shooter and is going to help us in that area. A championship has been our goal from the beginning and we are going to keep grinding, keep chasing.”
Faith Cauthron, inset, and Maddi Ford have been the backbone of Reeves’ drive to a state championship, a goal that has eluded the Raiders but keeps them working hard in the offseason.