Sports briefs: NAZ Suns donate to heroes, ASU w hoops to play on Navajo Reservation

The NAZ Suns donated $7,520 to law enforcement agencies, first responders and veterans.

The NAZ Suns donated $7,520 to law enforcement agencies, first responders and veterans.

PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. – The Northern Arizona Suns held a check presentation at the Prescott Valley Event Center on Tuesday to donate all proceeds raised from their inaugural Salute to Heroes Night.

The NAZ Suns raised $7,520 for first responders and military in the quad-city area on March 24 by auctioning off specialty camouflage jerseys the team created and wore during their 2017-18 season finale.

“Giving back to our community and investing in the quad-city area is so important to us,” Northern Arizona Suns Director of Business Operations Ashley Stovall said. “We were pleased to honor those who serve and protect our town and our country. Prescott Valley is a great place to live and we couldn’t imagine calling anywhere else home. We thank all of our first responders, military and everyone who contributed their time and resources into making this night a memorable one. The support of our fans is amazing and we look forward to many more great events.”

Representatives from the Prescott Valley Police Department, Yavapai County Sherriff’s Office, Central Arizona Fire & Medical Authority, VFW Post 10227 and American Legion Post 140 all attended the presentation to each accept a share of the donation.

In addition to the postgame auction of the specialty jerseys on March 24, the team held pregame events that included displays from/of helicopters, SWAT, K9 units, Fire Engine and patrol cars. Displays and representatives from Prescott Valley Police, Central Arizona Fire & Medical Authority, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Chino Valley Police, YCSO Jeep-Posse, Yavapai Tribal Police and the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office were in attendance.

  • NAZ Suns

ASU women’s hoops to host Baylor on Navajo Reservation

TEMPE, Ariz. – The Arizona State University women’s basketball program announced that it will be bringing NCAA women’s college basketball to the Native American community next season when it hosts perennial national powerhouse Baylor at the Bee Holdzil Fighting Scouts Event Center on the Navajo Reservation in Fort Defiance, Arizona.

The matchup between two of the nation’s top programs will take place on Sun., Nov. 11, 2018, and will be televised on ESPN2. Tip time will be announced at a later date.

Working in conjunction with ASU’s Office of American Indian Initiatives, ‘Showdown on the Rez’ will take place on Veterans Day weekend and serve as a celebration of Native American Heritage Month and also provide a platform to recognize and honor Native Americans who served in the armed forces.

“Over many decades, the Native American community has done so much to embrace our women’s basketball program and we felt there was no better time than now to make the journey to where ‘Rezball’ originated as a way to show our appreciation for all their support,” ASU head coach Charli Turner Thorne said. “At one of our home games each season, our fans have had the opportunity to celebrate Native American culture and tradition. They get to hear the unique music, eat the food and enjoy the arts of the Native people. Now it’s time to take our team and our Tempe community to the special place where this lifestyle lives day in and day out.

“Additionally, we know that there are many Veterans within the Native American community, especially Vietnam Veterans, who have not been properly acknowledged for their sacrifice for our country. Per capita, Native Americans had the highest record of service out of any ethic group in the Vietnam War with over 40,000 serving. We will use our game in Fort Defiance as an opportunity to share their stories, celebrate them and officially welcome these Veterans home.

“I would like to thank Baylor University and head coach Kim Mulkey for believing in the importance of playing this game and the impact that it will make in the Native American community.”

“We are thankful and appreciative of these two prestigious institutions to bring the game of college basketball to the Navajo Nation,” former chairman and president of the Navajo Nation Peterson Zah said. “The Navajo people have always loved the game of basketball. Our young native athletes have advanced to play at Division I schools in various sports. All we need now is more exposure and opportunity to compete at that level.”

The Sun Devil women’s basketball program will also be honoring former ASU players and Native Americans Ryneldi Becenti (1992-93), Kalene Carl (1997), Michelle Tom (1998-99) and Rainy Crisp (2000-03).

One of ASU’s all-time greatest players, Becenti is in the ASU Athletics Hall of Fame and was the first player to have her jersey retired by the program. Carl was a member of Turner Thorne’s first team at ASU. Tom was a 3-point specialist who connected on 40 percent of her triples. Crisp played in 112 career games and was a member of Sun Devil teams that qualified for the postseason four straight seasons.

“The recognition of former successful Navajo student-athletes Ryneldi Becenti, Rainy Crisp, Michelle Tom, and Kalene Carl reminds the youth of the Navajo Nation that pursuing a college education and playing Division I basketball is attainable through hard work, dedication and commitment,” ASU Office of American Indian Initiatives director Annabell Bowen said.

Added Turner Thorne, “They helped pave the way for so many youth that aspire to play sports and receive a college education. They are pioneers within their communities and we felt that there would be no better way to honor them than playing a basketball game on the reservation.”

Baylor went 33-2 last season and advanced to the regional round of the NCAA Tournament for the 10th consecutive season.

The Sun Devils are coming off a 2017-18 campaign in which they tied the school records for consecutive NCAA appearances (five) and 20-win seasons (five).

This will be the third all-time meeting between the two schools with the Lady Bears claiming wins in the previous two meetings, most recently in 2009.

Bee Holdzil Fighting Scouts Event Center seats more than 6,500 spectators. Information on tickets will be announced later this summer.

  • ASU

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