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Northeast senior proud of how far Vikings came

Kyree Williams helped Northeast win the Public League indoor track championship. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Losing your final high school basketball game hurts a lot. 

Kyree Williams found the perfect tonic.

Williams is a senior on the Northeast High School basketball team, and this year his Vikings had quite the season.

They made the Public League quarterfinals, and advanced to the District 12 Class 6A consolation game.

In that game, the Vikings fell to the Catholic League Vikings, Archbishop Wood, 65-43.

“Honestly, I usually am the guy trying to pick up my teammates, but that game I needed a lot of people to pick me up because I love this team,” the Overbrook native said. “During the year, I’m the guy who picks people up. I try to be the leader. I try to make sure everybody is good and doing OK. But losing, that hurt. I needed them.”

He also found another way to ease the pain.

Three days after he lost to Wood, he helped lead Northeast’s indoor track team to a Public League championship.

He did so by taking first place in high jump, third in hurdles and third in the 4×400 relay.

Track is his second sport, but he also loves competing there and his teammates, so that was a nice way to follow up on his great basketball season.

Kyree Williams provided the Northeast basketball team with energy off the bench. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

“I’m mostly basketball, I just go to meets, that’s why I’m surprised I did so well,” Williams said. “We won last year, too. I wasn’t surprised the team did well. I’ve just been doing basketball more than track. It was fun.”

So was basketball.

This year, the Vikings won 19 games, 11 games against Public League foes during the regular season, and hung tough with some of the toughest teams in the area.

Williams did his part. This year, that meant not being on the floor when the game started.

He played key minutes, many times outpacing some of his teammates in the starting lineup. It wasn’t the role he wanted at first, but one he grew to not only be great at, but enjoy.

“At first, I was hoping I would be a starter because it was my senior year and I’ve been working for it,” Williams said. “Then I had to think what’s best for the team. I wanted to help the team a lot. I think I helped the team a lot. I brought defense and energy. Help anyone offensively, I built my whole game off the role off the bench.

“I wanted to be a leader. I wanted to not just lead the younger guys, but also lead the seniors in my class. I wanted them to see I’ll do anything for the team.”

He not only led by example, he told them a story of another guy who had to work his way up from little playing time.

“My story, I thought, could help a lot of the younger guys,” Williams said. “My (sophomore) year, I was called up to varsity, then I got hurt. That messed up my junior season, I couldn’t show everyone what I could do, so I had to do that junior year. It was hard.

“Some kids thought about quitting. I told them about what I did. I had to work for it. Nobody gives it to you. You’ll get help, but I worked hard, and I tried to help this team every way I could.”

He certainly did that.

And he knows it was a two-way street.

While Williams gave the Vikings everything he had, he knows he had more than enough support, starting with the Northeast coaching staff, including head coach Steven Novosel, as well as assistant coaches Stephen Leath and Tyree Tucker.

“They were both huge,” Williams said. “Coach Leath brings a lot of fun to basketball, he’s serious, but he’ll joke around and make it fun. Coach Tucker brings the work ethic, hustle and grind. All the hard work. He makes sure we put that work. 

“Our head coach, he’s a mix of everything. Hard work, fun, he’s more of a make-you-a-better-person (kind of coach). He wants you to get better as a player, but come out a better player and a better person.”

Novosel has done more than help him on the court and as a person.

“Next year I definitely want to go to college and I know I want to play ball,” Williams said. “My basketball coach is my finance teacher. I’ve learned a lot and I’m really interested in that, so that’s what I think I’ll major in.”

He has that opportunity because as well as he does in athletics, he does equally as well, if not better in the classroom, where he maintains a 3.5 grade point average.

“My coach pushes me, but that started with my parents,” Williams said. “Academics are more important than athletics. I’ve learned that. It can be stressful, but I know if I do that, I’ll be good.

“I’ve learned a lot from my coach, but I was pretty good with a lot of that stuff before I got here. My parents were big on manners and doing the right thing. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of people care.”

While his basketball and indoor careers are over, now Williams can turn his attention to outdoor track.

“It helps that I have that,” Williams said. “I use it to make myself better for basketball. I hope a few other (basketball players) come out. 

“We did some great things. We built the program and put Northeast on the map, and it’s going to stay there. I’m really proud of how far we came.”

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