The eighth annual Native American Basketball Invitational kicked off for the girls division on July 7. The Lady Warriors from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community traveled to Valley Lutheran High School to take on the Lady Lobos of Diné from Chinle.
Michaela Ramirez put away a three-point shot to take the lead at the start of the game, and the Warriors never looked back. They were able to collapse the defense and open up perimeter shooting and also put balls in over the top for easy points. Olivia Lazano worked in the paint for her team, grabbing rebounds and putting up second-point attempts for the Warriors.
After the first half, the Warriors led 34-16 and head coach Shawn Lytle continued to encourage his girls to play solid defense.
Lytle told the Warriors after the game to continue to stay focused.
“We played well and need to continue to take care of the ball and do all the little things right,” he said.
The Warriors beat the Lobos 66-51.
Lady Warriors Finish Undefeated in Pool Play
By Jennifer Hernandez
Au-Authum Action News
Teams participating in the Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) were hoping to come out of pool play with a perfect 3-0 record, but only six of the 33 girls teams participating in this year’s tournament did. One was the Lady Warriors from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which had four girls on the roster from Salt River High School. Nine other schools from around the area were also represented.
After competing in their first three pool-play games, the Lady Warriors finished with a perfect 3-0 record. In their second game of the tournament, the Warriors went down early in the first half, after the Seminole team You Dnt Want It from Florida came out with a 22-4 lead early in the game. Although the game was forced into overtime, coach Shawn Lytle said the Warriors worked their way to a 70-66 win over a tough team.
In their 20-point win over Team Extreme (Navajo) from New Mexico, Monique Newton improved the score for the Warriors on three plays to go ahead 13-5, including a three-point shot made on an inbounds pass, two free throws and an 18-foot jumper. Olivia Lazano stayed persistent underneath the basket, creating second chances for her team. Consistent offense and solid defense by the Warriors allowed them to maintain their lead and win the game 54-34.
Lytle said he is confident in his team because they have quality players. He said they do well in the high post and often get a lot of decent looks from that position.
“I have been telling them all tournament, as long as we rebound and play defense we will be in every game,” he said. “I told them if we don’t do those things, we will have problems. We have a deep bench, so we can do a lot.”
Lady Warriors Basketball Eliminated From NABI One Game Short of US Airways Center
By Jennifer Hernandez
Au-Authum Action News
After advancing to the championship bracket, the Salt River Lady Warriors took on Team Colorado in the first game. The game was close through halftime, with a 23-21 lead for the Warriors.
The Warriors produced five unanswered points on two lay-ups, a jumper and two free throws from Jessie Paneoma, as well as a three-point shot by Michaela Ramirez. These contributions put the Warriors ahead 40-30 with the game clock winding down.
At the end of the game, the Warriors defeated Team Colorado 58-47, advancing them to bracket play.
“Our first goal was to get out of pool play, and we did with three wins,” head coach Shawn Lytle said.
In the quarterfinals, the Warriors traveled to Phoenix College to take on Oklahoma’s NDNS II. The Warriors came out flat at the start of the game, but began to show their abilities when they pulled down boards and played solid defense.
“We have never faced a team (in this tournament) that has come at us with man-to-man coverage,” Lytle said. “I am confident in the girls when we are playing zone, but when we went up against man-to-man the girls struggled to move without the ball, and you have to [do that] in order to be successful.”
The girls fell behind 11-2 before Lytle called a timeout. He told the team they need to start playing and stop standing around and watching the game.
Ramirez came out of the break with a quick three-point shot and then again two possessions later. Monique Newton also began taking on their opponent’s defense and was able to earn her way to the free-throw line.
The Warriors trailed by four at the half and then took a 38-28 lead, but a late charge by Oklahoma gave them the momentum. Newton finished the game with two blocks for the Warriors, but they fell 52-43 to end their tournament run.
“I thought we played well during the tournament, especially after having to just throw a group of girls together,” Lytle said. “I am really proud of the girls. I knew we would have to play a very good game to beat this team, and we put up a good effort.”