Cover Story

Salt River Renegades player Mikki Ramirez attempts to make a layup against a Lady Hoops player during their first game in the NABI Basketball Tournament.

Native Ballers Roll Into Town for the NABI Tournament

By Au-Authm Action News Staff
Au-Authm Action News

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and other Native American youth across the country and Canada participated in the Ninth Annual Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI), July 5-9. Games were played in the Community at Scottsdale Community College, the Salt River High School and Phoenix.

This year there were two divisions for both the girls and boys silver and gold divisions; giving four teams a championship title. The winning teams were the Lady Hoops for the silver division and Unknown Ballerz for the gold division. The boy’s champions were Crow Creek in the silver division and Yakama Nation in the gold.

NABI was formed in 2003 to host a 24-team tournament and create college scholarship opportunities for Phoenix-area Native American high school athletes. In its first year, NABI became a national tournament with national sponsors Nike and the Phoenix Suns.

NABI basketball tournament is now the largest Native American basketball tournament in the world, with 92 teams competing this summer. It was the first all–Native American National College Athletic Association–sanctioned event, resulting in more than 50 athletes scouted and granted athletic scholarships and two promising Native American NABI athletes picked up by Division 1 college teams. One has gone pro.

The NABI College Scholarship Fund has awarded Native American college students and national Native American youth nonprofit organizations more than $75,000.


The Salt River Renegades Make First Appearance in NABI Tournament

By Tasha Silverhorn

On the opening day of the Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI) tournament, the Salt River Renegades played their first game at Salt River High School against the Lady Hoops (Navajo, Quechan of Arizona). Salt River led 18-20 during the first half, and throughout most of the second half kept a five-point lead.

Renegades player Sophia Anaya was fouled with 40 seconds left on the clock, and unfortunately she missed her free throws. As the Lady Hoops took the ball to their side of the court, another Renegades player, Mikki Ramirez, was also fouled. Ramirez made her shots, giving the Renegades the lead, 51-48, in the last 10 seconds of the game. With the ball in the possession of the Lady Hoops, the Renegades got the ball back with three seconds left, ending their first game with a 51-48 win against the Lady Hoops.

The next day, the Renegades went up against the Kirtland team (Navajo of New Mexico) at the Scottsdale Community College gym. The girls went head-to-head during the first five minutes of the game, trading the lead back and forth. By the end of the first half, the Renegades led 19-15, and they kept up a consistent three-point lead in the second half. But with eight minutes left, Kirtland tied the game 27-27.

The Renegades struggled, only scoring points with free throws. In the last three minutes, the Renegades had a six-point lead, but the Kirtland players were determined to pull out a win. In the last two minutes, the Renegades struggled to keep possession of the ball and were outscored by Kirtland, losing their second game in the NABI tournament.

“I don’t know what happened, they were in their game,” said Coach Veronica Ramirez after the loss, looking ahead to the team’s next game in the tournament. “I think they will do [well in their next game]; they just need to play their game.”

Unfortunately, the Renegades lost 72-56 in their first bracket-play game against Unconquered (Seminole Tribe of Florida), ending their NABI run.

This was the last year for Ramirez, who has played in NABI on other teams for the last three years. “I wish I could play more, but I guess it’s time for me to go to the next level. It was fun playing,” said Ramirez.

Games and Highlights of Salt River teams below.

Salt River Lady Warriors Finish NABI 2-1By

Richie Corrales

The Salt River Lady Warriors played strong, winning two games and losing one in the Native American Basketball Invitational.

On July 6, the Lady Warriors took on the Lady Phenoms at the Scottsdale Community College gym. The Lady Warriors won by eight points, 40-32, making it into the NABI division bracket.

On Thursday, July 7, the Lady Warriors played against the Lapwai Huskies at Valley Lutheran, winning 57-47.

Then on Friday, July 8, they played Kirtland. “Kirtland is one of the best teams in this tournament,” said Robert Johnston, coach for the Lady Warriors, before the game, “and we look forward to playing them.”

In the afternoon game, Kirtland got possession and started racking up three-pointers right away, staying out in front of the Lady Warriors. Throughout the game, Kirtland continued to score six points to every shot that Lady Warriors made. The Lady Warriors struggled to keep the ball, and a player was even injured during the game while trying to block a Kirtland player. Kirtland won the game 73-33, then made it as far as the NABI semifinals before losing to the Navajo Nation Lady Magic team, 65-53.

Salt River Warriors Boys Basketball Team Finishes Pool Play 1-2 in NABI

By Jennifer Jimenez

The Salt River Warriors boys’ team played in the Ninth Annual Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI), hosted in Phoenix July 5-9.

The team racked up one win and two losses, unfortunately coming up short in their quest to make it to the championship game at U.S. Airways Center. The Warriors were coached by Robert Johnston and competed in three pool-play games before proceeding to bracket play.

In their first game, the Warriors took on the D’Bucks from the Navajo Nation. With minutes left to play, the Warriors scored five unanswered points to take a 27-26 lead heading into halftime. At the start of the second half, the Warriors struggled to take care of the ball, resulting in several turnovers. A big momentum change occurred with nine minutes left in the game, when the game began to pull away for the Warriors. The final score was 44-37 in favor of the D’Bucks, giving the Warriors their first loss of the tournament.

Then on July 6, the Warriors played the Maskwacis Warriors, a team from Canada, at Salt River High School. Salt River had trouble staying with their competition from the start of the game. At the half, the Warriors trailed 34-36. Salt River Warriors player Bataka Brown came out playing tough defense and was able to help bring his team back within three points, 41-38, but it wasn’t enough, and the Salt River Warriors were defeated 58-50.

In the final game of pool play, the Warriors won by way of forfeit by the EBCI Boyz from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. They then advanced to bracket play, but were defeated by Alaska 71-64 to end their tournament run.

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