SAGU American Indian College
Angel Villa is playing his first year at the Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) American Indian College in Phoenix. Villa and the SAGUAIC Warriors played a full schedule this season, with games as far away as Billings, Montana, where he and his team won two games against Yellowstone Christian College. They finished their season at 7-2 against NCCAA opponents.
Villa, who has been playing basketball since he was a child, was raised in Phoenix by his grandma Lena Villa. His grandfather is the late Donald White. In the past he has played with many teams, from school teams to the Arizona Warriors.
His goal is to get a degree in business administration. As far as basketball, he hopes to get better and see what can happen; eventually he would like to play overseas and get paid for playing basketball.
“Thank you to all my coaches, from elementary school to college, including my AIC coach Robb Floco. [I’d like to give a] shout-out to Robert Johnston; he was huge for me in getting to college and helping me out through every step, even now. How he continues to help young Native athletes is awesome,” said Villa.
Westwood High School
Junior Varsity Girls Warriors
Westwood High School junior Tori Smith is playing her third year with the Westwood Warriors girls basketball team. This year the team is 6-6 playing other 6A division teams such as Red Mountain, Mesa High School, Dobson High School, Mesa Skyline and others.
“This year there were some girls who moved up to the varsity team and some [under]class students who moved up to the JV team,” said Smith. “It was a bit different because of the COVID-19 regulations; we had to wear masks while we played and there was little crowd to cheer us on.”
Smith mentioned that the teams did cheer for each other during the games and tried to get everyone motivated to win.
For the rest of the year, she is going to be working on her shooting and focus on graduating next year.
Westwood High School
Junior Varsity Warriors
For high school freshman Juan Smith, this is his first year playing high school basketball. He and his siblings have played basketball for as long as they can remember, starting out on teams within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Smith is enjoying his time learning the ropes of high school basketball. He hopes to continue and improve his skills so he can make varsity next year.
The JV Warriors’ record was 9-8 this season. Smith’s skill as post under the basket helped the team.
Now that the school basketball season is ending, Smith will play with the Ba’ag club team after spring break, a team he has been playing with for the last few years. As he continues to learn the game of basketball, he would like to work on his shooting. He thanks his mom and coaches for all their help and support.
Saguaro High School
Jesse Chavez is playing his first year of high school basketball with Saguaro High School’s freshman/sophomore team. They have a 9-2 season. Chavez has been playing basketball since he was about 6 years old, playing with teams from Salt River such as Below the Rim and Salt River Ba’ag.
“This year was different; we didn’t have much of a crowd attending the games,” said Chavez. “Each child can only have two parents at each game, no other students or children allowed, so there is not as much energy. I would like more of an audience. We did get to stay and watch the varsity games, but without all the fans it’s not the same.”
Although Chavez likes basketball, he is ready to try out for the school’s baseball team. He has been playing baseball for the last eight years and hopes to be an outstanding player in that sport.
Chavez acknowledges his dad for getting him into sports, and he would like to thank all of his family, “especially my parents for taking me to all my practices and getting me all the equipment that I needed,” he said.