Barkema begins final run at Roland-Story: Bradley recruit scored 25 in season opener at Gilbert

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune
Reagan Barkema is excited to get her senior season underway at Roland-Story. Barkema signed a letter of intent to play Division 1 women's basketball at Bradley in November.

Sometimes Reagan Barkema can be a little gun-shy on the basketball court.

The 5-11 forward can score from anywhere on the floor. She has a great outside shooting touch, the quickness to beat people off the dribble and the size to post up and overpower smaller wing players.

But she's also extremely unselfish.

"Whatever the team needs me to do I'm there to do it," Barkema said. "It's not about me."

During Roland-Story's season opener at Gilbert on Tuesday it took Barkema three minutes to take her first shot. She didn't take another one until the final minute of the first quarter.

Yet by the end of the first half she had 18 points. Barkema finished the game with 25 points and seven rebounds, but Roland-Story fell to its former conference rivals, 65-50.

"When you force things it's easier to get out of rhythm," Barkema said. "The team didn't need me to score in those first three minutes, but later on in the half they needed me and I was there. When you just let things come to you it helps the whole team more."

Barkema shot 8 of 16 from the field against Gilbert. She made 4 of 9 3-pointers and all five of her free throws.

"She did a nice job of taking what was there and not forcing the issue too much," Roland-Story head coach Maddie Gelber said. "She's becoming (the go-to player) for us and I expect her to continue to grow and flourish throughout the season."

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Gelber came to Roland-Story from Red Oak. A Roland-Story graduate, Gelber replaced her former coach — Justin Morton — when Morton retired last March after leading the Norse to their second state tournament appearance in three years.

She is certainly happy to have a player of Barkema's caliber to lean on in her first year at her alma mater.

"It's a great situation to walk into," Gelber said. "Probably the biggest thing I appreciate about Reagan is she brings other people with her at practice. She understands the big picture. She's the kind of kid where she's where she needs to be, but if the rest of the team is not where they're supposed to be it's her responsibility to get them where they need to go."

During her first three years at Roland-Story, Barkema has been remarkably consistent. She averaged 12 points as a freshman, 14 as a sophomore and 14.2 as a junior.

But as Barkema starts preparing for the next level she may be called on to score a lot more this season. Roland-Story has a young team with fellow senior Reece Johnson the only other starter with extensive varsity experience.

That means she may have to start looking for her shot more and even force things on occasion if the offense is sputtering.

"It's a hard line to walk," Gelber said. "She's got to be smart and know the situation and I've got to be OK to maybe live with a couple that I don't want to see because there's a decent chance that they're going to go in."

Reagan Barkema got her senior year at Roland-Story off to a hot start by scoring 25 points in a 65-50 loss to Gilbert Tuesday.

Whether she decides to put up more shots or put most of her energy on defense, rebounding and passing, her teammates are behind her all the way.

"We've been through it all together," Roland-Story senior forward Madison Geise said. "This is my first year getting solid minutes and she's just been great helping me out. I think this is going to be a great season and we do a good job of balancing each other out."

Johnson has been Barkema's wingman for several years. She loves the enthusiasm and energy her teammate brings to the court every day.

"Reagan's always been very competitive," Johnson said. "I love basketball, but I can't say I have the same competitive drive as her. She's the hammer and I bring everyone up. You have to have both."

Barkema was certainly competitive Tuesday. She was going up against Drake signee and long-time All-Iowa Attack teammate Ava Hawthorne, who scored a game-high 29 points.

"You know everything she does when she's playing with you, but when you're playing against her it's hard," Barkema said. "Ava is a great player and it's hard to guard her and get a stop."

Barkema has earned a Division 1 scholarship herself. She signed with Bradley in November.

That means she and Hawthorne will be future rivals in the Missouri Valley Conference.

"Once we step on the court we're enemies, but we also love each other," Hawthorne said. "We were giving each other high-fives and having a good time. I wish her the best of luck in her season this year and I look forward to playing her in the Missouri Valley Conference."

At Bradley, Barkema will be joining forces with another former Attack member in Caroline Waite. Waite is the all-time leading scorer at Ames.

Waite and Barkema were never on the same team during their Attack years. But they did practice and play together during scrimmages.

"I love and respect anybody that competes like Reagan does," Waite said. "She is also a tremendous worker and that is a great thing to have coming into college. She will bring in size in the guard spot and she has a high basketball IQ. Reagan will bring great energy and skill ... and I am so excited to be able to play with her. I love who she is on and off the court. We all can't wait to have her here."

Before she joins the Braves, Barkema still has work to do at Roland-Story. She wants to make a third trip to state before hanging up her Norse jersey.

"We have a lot of new pieces we're trying to fit together," Barkema said. "The second half (against Gilbert) showed our inexperience, but the first half is a really good testament of what the team is going to be like in February. I'm really confident in us going forward."