NN Elite exacts revenge on Yakama Nation

Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie
NN Elite player Valiyah Yazzie (21) guards the ball as she runs down court during the Native American Basketball Invitational championship game on Saturday in Phoenix.

PHOENIX

There was no debate on which two teams would make the finals at this year’s NABI girls’ basketball tournament.

Having played in last year’s gold championship game, the Yakama Nation and the NN Elite girls’ basketball teams renewed their rivalry last Saturday at the Talking Sticks Resort Arena, home of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury.

With a slight format change, the two teams played in the Division I title game, the tournament’s elite bracket. In a highly contested game, the Lupton, Arizona-based team avenged last year’s setback by posting a hard-fought 49-44 win.

“When the brackets came out I had a good feeling that we were going to play Yakama Nation in the championship game,” NN Elite head coach Lisa Quigley said. “They were on the top half of the bracket and we were in the lower half so I feel like the top two teams made the finals.”

And while there were some teams that gave them fits, Quigley said both teams were destined to make it this far.

“We played a couple of tough teams to get here,” she said of the Indigenous Storm and the Lady Rezbombers.

Against the Indigenous Storm, the NN Elite eked out a 41-38 victory in the quarterfinals and in the semifinals they outlasted the Lady Rezbombers by a 57-40 count.

“Those teams were pretty tough and we barely won one of those games,” Quigley said.

On the other side of the bracket, Yakama Nation had an easier time making the finals as they won all of their games by a 22-point margin.

“Yakama Nation is always a tough team and they deserved to be in the championship game,” Quigley said.

Even with their impending collision course with Yakama Nation, NN Elite player Samantha Quigley said they tried to not look too far ahead. Instead they concentrated on the task at hand.

“We weren’t really worried about them,” she said of Yakama Nation. “Our focus was always on the next game but when we both reached the championship game it pumped us up.”


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Categories: Basketball

About Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at qjodie@navajotimes.com