Nine girls from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community have joined the Stapley Junior High girls basketball team (the Saber Cats) and are enjoying success both on and off the court.
This year the team added seven new girls to the roster. “Last year we won a total of three games, and this year so far we won five games. We have improved a lot and it has been a lot of fun this year,” said assistant coach Colten Walker. “Especially with how upset the team was with losing last year—this year it is a turnaround, and the girls have much more confidence and we have a goal of making it to the championship game.”
At the time of this writing, the team’s record is 5-1. Nine of the girls have had experience playing club ball, but playing on a school team is a first.
Au-Authm Action News spoke with the girls to get their assessment of the team and their personal contributions.
Seventh-grader Harmony Conger said this is her first year on the team. “I’m point guard on the team and this is my first year. I also play club ball for the Lady Wolf Pack,” shared Conger. “[The Saber Cats] are good at working together as a team. We played about five games and have three more to go; right now we are doing well, and I believe we are heading to the championship.”
“I’ve been playing on the team for two years,” said Selina Schurz. “I think I am great at defense. I like the way we can all work together.”
“I consider myself the main player on the team,” said Lynnyice Carlisle with a smile. “We only lost three games, but not by a lot. I have really good ball skills and communicate well with my teammates. I also play on the Lady Warriors team. I’m used to playing rez ball, and some of the girls on the team play a little bit different from the style that I am used to playing, but we are all good.”
“My team is doing real good and I am excited. [The] toughest team we played so far, to me, was Rhodes Junior High. We were not passing very well in that game, but we improved after that game,” shared Angelina Olivas.
“Sometimes it’s hard for some of the teammates to keep up with the plays. I’m good at getting the rebounds sometimes. I look forward to playing Carson Junior High because my cousin is on that team and she thinks she is better than us,” said Bucky Scabby, laughing. “My family always tells me, when I get open to shoot the ball all the time. I have been playing since last year on the team.”
“We are good at defense and offense,” said Shaylene Scabby. “I’ve been playing for about seven years, and I feel we need to work on our aggressiveness as well as getting our upper body stronger through strengthening and conditioning; this will help with grabbing the ball and rebounding. I like basketball because my whole family played while in school and college. We are in the playoffs right now; I feel we are doing better than last year.”
“I think in the [game] we get really serious, we are getting really good,” said Kennedy Bark. “I’ve been playing basketball since I was very young. I look forward to playing more basketball and taking more weight-training classes to get stronger.”
“So far I think this is my favorite sport,” said Delilah Chiago. “This is my first year on the team, and I really like it. I think I’ve improved a lot.”
“I just like playing as a team because we make new friends. I also have been playing on my grandfather Robert Ramirez’s team, so I have experience,” said Chiann Kuwanvama.