Sisterhood falls short of NABI championship game
The camaraderie and cohesion of the RezBombers is what excited Brian Kaye the most.
The team, which includes players from Page, Winslow, Flagstaff and Dobson High, formed a bond like no other.
“I’m extremely ecstatic about how we played,” said Kaye, the head coach of the RezBombers team. “This is my third year with these girls and I feel like this is the closest team that I’ve ever coached. With these girls it was a family and they played for one another.
“There is something special about this group, which is something that I didn’t have in previous years,” he added. “I had a lot of talent and a lot of dominant players in previous years, but this group is by far the closest sisterhood that I’ve ever had.”
That sisterhood helped get the RezBombers two games shy of making the championship game at the 18th Annual NABI tournament in Phoenix.
The Rez Bombers finished the double-elimination tournament with an 8-2 record. They had won seven straight, which included a pair of tough games against the Crow Cowgirls.
“We played them in pool and we had them again in the tournament,” Kaye said. “They were extremely physical, so it was kind of a wakeup call for our girls.”
The RezBombers coach said playing the Crow team twice helped them prepare them for the New Mexico Elite, the NABI tourney winners.
“That gave us the confidence to play them,” he said. “The girls realized they we could hang with anybody.”
Against NM Elite, the Kaye-coach team trailed 27-13 at halftime. But after settling down, the RezBombers made it a one-possession game before the eventual champions pulled away with a 49-43 win.
“We fell behind by at least 17 points, so we had to dig deep,” he said. “I think we cut it to two, three points – but they hit a three. We just couldn’t recover after that.”
Page standout Torrance Begay scored 13 points for the RezBombers while Winslow’s Jaci Gonnie added 10 in the losing effort.
With that six-point loss, the RezBombers were sent into the elimination bracket and they bounced back with a 56-41 win over the Run N Gun squad.
Their NABI run, however, was halted in the next round when the Legendary Elite posted a 67-59 win.
“This is our third Final Four and I wish we could have gotten closer to that championship game but couldn’t be more proud of these young ladies,” Kaye said. “They’re extremely phenomenal players. They’re very humble and they’re good kids. They had no egos and they completely played for one another. I think for us we just ran out of gas.”
The RezBombers had four players finish in double figures in their final game with Flagstaff player Gracelyn Nez leading the way with 16 points.
Gonnie added 14 while Begay finished with a dozen and Jaden Leslie chipped in 10.