Westminster women's basketball: Senior guard Nicole Yazzie leads Griffins into NAIA Tournament
Too many times Nicole Yazzie had to endure a visiting team celebrating a conference championship, cutting down the nets, on her home court.
It was almost too much for the Westminster senior.
"It was personal to us, for our coaches and team and especially for the school," said Yazzie, who will lead the Griffins as a No. 2 seed into the 2013 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship against St. Catharine (Ky.) on Thursday. Tipoff in Frankfort, Ky., is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. (MT).
The fifth-ranked Griffins (27-3) finally took care of business Saturday with a 63-48 Frontier Conference championship against Carroll College. Yazzie, a four-time first-team all-conference guard and the league's 2013 Player of the Year, scored 18 points in the clincher.
"They were determined to get that done," Westminster coach Shelley Jarrard said.
Although this is the fourth consecutive season the Griffins have competed in the national tournament, it will be the first time as conference champions. A long run in the tournament would cap what has been a wonderful career, high school and college, for the West Valley City native and Bingham High standout.
"A win would complete it all," Yazzie said. "We're ready to go and have been ready for it since pre-season.
"Rebounding will be a key. Another key is our heart."
Including her four years at Bingham, which included a 2007 5A State title, Yazzie's teams have a combined record of 190-37. Last season, she earned NAIA All-American honors.
"She is a special player," Jarrard said. "She has a great feel for the game. When you have special kids like that, ones you won't see again, ever, you have a chance to be good."
Yazzie is also consistent, maintaining a scoring average between 12.2 and 13.3 points each season. She is the sixth player in school history to eclipse 1,000 career points. This year, with her return to the point, the 5-foot-6 guard also dished out 151 assists.
"Without her we'd be so different," said teammate and conference Defensive Player of the Year Cydney Tibbets.
The No. 5 Westminster women's basketball team (27-3) has been the only NAIA Division I school to be ranked in the top five the entire season.
Nicole Yazzie, the Frontier Conference Player of the Year, averaged 13.2 points with 151 assists. She is a four time all-conference first-team selection.
The Griffins enter the NAIA Division I National Championship as a No. 2 seed.