Watching her teammates from the bench last year wasn’t easy for Selma High guard Rachel Vieira, who was sidelined with a broken arm injury she suffered late last season.
It was an injury that kept her out for the team’s final eight games of the season including the Central Section Division III playoffs, which was a postseason run that lasted through the semifinals.
By not being able to help her teammates on the court, Vieira had to take on a different leadership role, which was being a motivator on the sidelines.
“I had to be there for them in a different way than I was on the court,” Vieira said. “That was very hard.”
After recovering from her injury, Vieira, who is now in her senior season, has been a key player for the Bears 14-2 start to the 2018-19 campaign. So far this season, Vieira, a four-year varsity player, is averaging 19.6 points per game and has been shooting 49 percent from the floor, including a 35.5 three-point percentage.
As a senior, Vieira has accomplished individual achievements including eclipsing 1,000 career points and scoring 42 points in a 79-24 win over Rio Linda High School in a tournament in Sacramento on Dec. 6. Vieira’s 42 points is the most scored in a game by a single player in program history. She scored her 42 points in three quarters.
Vieira said she wasn’t aware she scored 42 points in that contest until after the game.
“She doesn’t play for personal stats,” Selma head coach Paul Romig said. “She has no idea how she’s doing in the game. When she broke the record for 42 points in a game, she had no idea, which to me as a coach speaks to her character that’s she team-oriented.”
Rachel’s father Ed Vieira, who is part of coach Romig’s staff as an assistant coach, recalled his daughter’s 42-point performance as something special.
“As a coach, I was happy to be apart of that [42-point performance] and as a father I’m really proud to have those moments with her knowing they may or may not come again,” Ed said. “It was pretty good and I was pretty impressed. Now the joke is ‘What have you done for us lately?’”
Ed has also coached Rachel since she was in the third grade, which was when she began to play basketball.
Romig said it’s been impressive to watch the type of year Rachel is having, especially coming off an arm injury that devastated her.
“She’s raised her game to whole different level for us,” Romig said. “[She’s] the weapon, as far as being able to shoot the three’s as comfortably as she does, but also completing the game with the ball handling and being able to penetrate in transition makes her a real dangerous weapon.”
When Rachel was cleared for basketball activities in the offseason, she said she couldn’t wait to get back on to the court, but it wasn’t an easy road at first.
“It was hard at first because I didn’t have full function and I was like ‘I can’t do it like I did,’” Rachel said. “So it was building that mental game of ‘I’m going to do it and I’m going to get stronger’ and go hard as I can in practice so I can get back on the floor because I missed so much time, so I have to make up for it.”
To prepare for her senior season on the court, Rachel practiced her shots on her off-time and played tennis at Selma High, which was the first time she played high school tennis.
The 2018 tennis season was Rachel’s first time playing the sport since eighth grade - she started playing in third grade - and she rose up the team’s ranks all the way to finishing the season as the No. 1 singles player.
Rachel said her time on the tennis court helped her prepared for the mental side of basketball.
“Tennis is such a mental game and I forgot how mental it was,” Rachel said. I would get frustrated a lot, but then coming to basketball, I had this anger built up in me, so I took it out [on the court].”
Rachel said tennis helped improved her footwork improved, which has lead her to getting more steals. Rachel is averaging 4.5 steals per game this season with her highest total in game being 10, which was the same game she scored 42 points.
Even though she’s proud of her individual success, the stats won’t mean anything for Rachel without reaching the team goal of playing for a Valley championship at Selland Arena.
“We’re improving everyday and as coach said ‘If we do the little things right, it pays off,’” she said. “When we work hard at practice, the days that we dreaded, days that we don’t want to come, but we still work hard and I think what’s getting us through is just that main goal of getting to Valley."