Sisler High School basketball star Raia Guinto is keeping her talents in Peg City. Last week, the guard/forward committed to continuing her playing career with the University of Winnipeg Wesmen next year.
Im still kind of wrapping my head around it that Im actually signing, that Im actually going to go to school, Guinto said. So, Im excited.
The decision weighed heavily on the 17-year-old. In the last few months, universities in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario showed interest in the wily defender with a deadly pull-up jumper, but Guinto wasnt quite ready to make a choice.
I was just kind of stressing out because of school and other factors, and I just didnt want to think about it. I just kept pushing it back, saying Ill decide later, she said.
But as interest mounted, Guinto knew shed have to choose her next step.
Personally, I dont think I could leave my family and my friends. The thought of saying bye to them at the airport, thats what really did it for me. I dont think I could, she said. When playing, just looking at the sideline during timeouts, just for a second, and seeing the support I have, thats what I like seeing when Im playing. Thats what pushes me.
Guinto wont have to look so far as the sideline to find support next year, as her older sister Raizel Guinto returns to Winnipeg to join the Wesmen for her final year of eligibility after four years at Louisiana Tech.
Itll be cool for sure. Ive never really played basketball with or against her. I get to do it for my first season, and that means a lot to me, Guinto said.
Guinto was hesitant to delve into the qualities and strengths that helped her climb to this point, saying she didnt like bragging. But Sisler coach Mike Tan had no problem doing it for her.
Shes a threat on both ends of the floor. Shes a defensive pest. She really likes to get up on the ball, get into passing lanes, step in on drives if she has to help out; and she just shoots the ball really well… She has one of the nicest, if not the best, pull-up jump shots in the province for her age group this year, Tan said.
Guinto also has the intangibles that not only elevates her game, but also makes the team around her better, Tan said.
Shes a great leader. She was very vocal, and she really pushed and emphasized the importance of having a good team bond, he said.
She made sure she was connected with her teammates and took the time to work with her teammates to help them get better, he said.
She really put the team first, and it really showed in how we played because the bond that this years team had was pretty unreal, Tan said. To have that sort of leadership was pretty valuable.
That helped create a team culture in which Tan and the players looked forward to getting to the gym to improve the team and have fun.
It was one of my most enjoyable coaching years that Ive had, he said.
And that was due, in no small part, to the work ethic and attitude of Guinto, Tan added.
Guinto plans to study student athletic therapy, so she can stay in the gym thats where Im most happy.
Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at email@example.com or call him at 204-697-7206.