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‘Woda Runs’ power San Ysidro

01/22/2013, 8:56pm PST
By Steve Brand

As Woda runs, so do the San Ysidro High Cougars. Lightning-quick Ronald Steward puts the fast in fast break.

Ronald Steward adds speed to the offense for San Ysidro, which is ranked No. 8 in the San Diego Section.

— San Ysidro boys basketball coach Terry Tucker explains his team’s sudden spurts for eight or nine points at a time as “Woda runs.”

That’s because the player leading the way is Ronald Steward, who when he was 6 months old was nicknamed Woda by his older brother Dondi.

No one is quite sure what a Woda is but anyone who has seen the elder of two Stewards on the San Ysidro boys basketball team will tell you that whatever it is, it’s fast. Very fast. Roadrunner fast.

“I’ve never been timed in the 40 (although he played football in the fall) and I’ve been too lazy to run 100 meters in track, but the two fastest guys on the court are me and my brother, Lynard,” said the senior shooting guard who is listed at 5-foot-8 but admits the tape may have been stretched a bit.

“I really don’t know how fast I am but I’m pretty fast so maybe this spring I’ll find out by running track.”

Until then, he’s more than happy playing basketball for the 14-5 and section-ranked Cougars, averaging a team high 16.1 points a game — almost four points higher than his sophomore brother — the two of whom are among five players averaging in double figures for San Ysidro.

A year ago, Woda was the point guard, bringing the ball up court for the since-graduated Javion Watson but still getting off enough shots to average 10.2 points a game. With Watson now making waves for Long Beach State, the elder Steward shifted into his spot and Lynard is bringing the ball up court.

That has allowed Woda to shoot the 3-pointer more often. Last year he had 46 treys. This year, with almost half of the season still remaining if the Cougars can make a deep run into the Division II playoffs, he already has 45. His brother has 31. The rest of the team has 24.

“He has 40 percent of our threes,” says coach Tucker, a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant, “and he’s hitting better than 50 percent of them.”

What about those “Woda Runs?”

“We call them Woda runs because we’re running the ball so fast and Woda’s leading the way,” Tucker said. “Against Hoover we were down by 10 points and scored nine straight points. With 15 seconds to go we were still only three behind but the stupid coach didn’t get Woda the ball.”

Tucker can poke fun at himself because the Cougars, with Woda leading the way, have lost only to Hoover twice, Eastlake and Serra. All were setbacks of five or fewer points, except for one of the Hoover losses.

“We’re looking to get a high seed (by winning the South Bay League) and hopefully get to the Division II finals,” said Woda, aware that in San Diego Division II is loaded with the likes of Hoover, La Costa Canyon (a team San Ysidro has beaten) and Morse.

If they do, Woda’s father will not be able to watch him. He has one more year left on a three-year prison term. But London, Woda’s 6-month-old daughter, could be there.

“My mom raised me better than to be where my dad is,” said Woda, who has not seen his father in years. “And as for London, I take responsibility. I see her every other day — as much as I can.”

Woda is hoping a college will call but if not, he has alternative plans.

“I’ll join the service,” he said. “I want to support London and that’s one way I can do it.”

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