Delivering Sahuaro's Cutting Edge News & Saving Trees

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Delivering Sahuaro's Cutting Edge News & Saving Trees

The Paper Cut

Delivering Sahuaro's Cutting Edge News & Saving Trees

The Paper Cut


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Leaving A Legacy On The Court: 2024 Girls’ Basketball Seniors


The girls’ varsity basketball team had a remarkable senior night, securing a win over the Flowing Wells Caballeros. Heart, sweat, and tears were the themes of the emotional, but victorious, night. The girls have been working hard this season, and their dedication and passion for the game was displayed on the court as they took on the team who beat them earlier in the season.

The game started with the Cougars only scoring 9 points in the first quarter and the Caballeros scoring 16. Sahuaro came into the second quarter strong, securing their first lead of the night after scoring 17 points, and allowing only nine from Flowing Wells. Halftime ended at 26-25, with Sahuaro in the lead. The Cougars maintained their lead, and in the third quarter, they scored 15 more points, while Flowing Wells only scored 8.

The last quarter is where the game started to heat up. Sahuaro came out on top, but they fought for their victory on the court. Flowing Wells scored 18 points, following closely behind Sahuaro, who scored 12 points that quarter. In the last minute of the game, things started to look scary; the Caballeros managed to get within two points at 51-53. It was Flowing Wells’ ball, and they made numerous attempts to make a bucket, but the Cougar’s defense was strong. When the buzzer hit 0, the gym turned into a cacophony of cheers, screams, and the band played the fight song as the Cougars celebrated their victory over Flowing Wells.

At Sahuaro, girls’ basketball is more than a sport – it’s a family. Coach Botkin recognizes the girls’ togetherness saying, “They all get along well, and that’s what makes me so proud.” The family dynamic includes everyone on the team. He said, “Working with these seniors has been so much fun, and you’ve got ones that have been in the program for four years, and you got some that have been in the program for a year, but they’re all so wonderful, and you just develop connections with them and they’re like daughters to me honestly.”

Nyanza “Ny” Brown, #4, plays all positions but is mainly a forward. She has been playing at Sahuaro for two years since moving from Mississippi, but she has been playing since 5th grade. Her biggest inspirations are Stephen Curry because of the way he plays, her mom because she pushes her, and her granny.  She loves hearing her granny tell her how as soon as Ny picked up a basketball when she was little, it was obvious she immediately fell in love with the game. She plans to continue playing basketball in college, but she is unsure where. She’s going to miss the team bonding and the trips, and her favorite memory was when the girls forced her to ride a roller coaster during their California trip. Ny isn’t a fan of roller coasters, but she said she had fun even if it was scary and left her shaking when she got off. She’s learned, “To cherish your moments. Especially because you don’t know what you have left, or when your last play is going to be. You could get injured any day, so you just have to learn to cherish it.” She is sad it’s their last year to play together as seniors, but she’s excited to play with her team and “do what I do best.” 

Kristen “Kris” Valdez, #12, has been playing basketball for all four years at Sahuaro, and she started playing in 4th grade. She plays shooting guard or point guard for the team. Kris’s biggest inspirations are her brothers, who formerly played basketball at Sahuaro, and now play in a men’s league. She got into basketball by watching them play. Getting the offers she’s gotten has been her biggest achievement, and after high school, she’s going to continue playing basketball at Ottawa University and study exercise science. Kris says she’ll miss her team because of, “The energy and the bond that we have together.” She’s going to miss her teammates and Coach Botkin. Her favorite memories are also all of the trips they’ve taken as a team and going to Section 7. 

Dinorah “D” Lagarda-Pacheco, #24, plays point guard and has been playing varsity at Sahuaro for all four years. She grew up around her family playing basketball and started playing at age three. She says Sahuaro was “the perfect match” and she had been playing here long before her freshman year – playing in the summer during her 7th and 8th-grade years. Sahuaro’s head softball coach, better known as Tia Amy for Dinorah, and her mom are her biggest inspirations. Her mom continued to push her when things got tough, and her teammates and family were there to pick her up. D’s biggest achievement is “becoming the player I am today.” She won’t continue to play in college due to injuries, but she’ll be attending GCU to major in kinesiology and minor in sports psychology. She will miss her teammates, who have become her second family, and the away games and bus rides, even though she loves playing on her home court. 

Cassandra “Cassie” Coolidge, #30, plays shooting guard and has been playing on varsity at Sahuaro for all four years. Her biggest inspiration and supporter, her mom, enrolled her in multiple sports as a kid, and in high school, she chose basketball over soccer. Basketball is her main sport, but she also plays volleyball and tennis at Sahuaro. She says it’s great playing alongside her sister Carly, and she’s excited about their first postseason together. Cassie scored her 1000th career point this season, making it one of her biggest achievements along with playing at the next level. She isn’t committed yet, and her major is undecided, but she wants to go into law enforcement. She’s going to miss home games and having people who come out to watch them. She expressed her gratitude by saying, “Thank you to everyone who’s always supported us. One of her favorite memories is when she went to the Estrella Foothills Tournament during her junior year, and the team won the championship. Cassie has learned to, “Listen to others because you’re never done growing. I don’t think you’re ever done growing. Especially as a basketball player.”  

Brianna “Bri” Gomez, #32, plays point guard and has been playing for 3 years at Sahuaro. She started playing in 4th grade and got into basketball by watching it on YouTube, and then decided she wanted to play in high school. Her biggest inspirations are Devin Booker, a player for the Phoenix Suns, and Izzy Hale, a former Cougar. She plans to continue playing in college, and she’ll be attending a college in Connecticut. Bri’s biggest achievement is being the first to graduate on time in her family, as well as balancing sports, school, and having a job. She’s going to miss Coach Botkin, Coach Kinter, and the girls. Her favorite memory is the trip to the Estrella Foothills tournament because she had fun with the people she shared a room with, and the fun memory of being at a mall at 9 am because their coach wanted them to be there early. A lesson that Bri has learned from basketball is “Keeping your head up and playing the game the right way.” 

Sanna Comer, #34, plays a little bit of everything, but she’s mainly a forward. She transferred to Sahuaro during the second semester of last year and started playing with the girls in the summer, making this her first season at Sahuaro. Sanna comes from a sporty family with her parents both being Division 1 athletes, her oldest sister running track, her little brother in wrestling, and her other two little brothers playing basketball. Her dad, also a basketball player, is one of her biggest inspirations, and all of her siblings motivate her. She loves her teammates and says they’re, “… the goofiest funniest girls I’ve ever met in my entire life. I wouldn’t trade them for the world.” She has also made strong bonds with the freshman and JV girls, something she never thought she would do. Sanna has gotten offers to play basketball in college, but she knows she wants to pursue pre-dental and become an orthodontist. Sanna says she’s, “…grateful for all of the opportunities and people that basketball has brought into my life, especially coming to Sahuaro…Don’t regret transferring at all.” 

Coach Botkin’s favorite thing about this group of seniors is,”… the day-to-day interactions. Them popping into my office and just saying good morning. I’m going to miss that, and I hope the next group is the same.” He said, “I wish them a lot of success and I want them to know 10 years down the road from now if they need anything from me, I’m here for them, but they’ve left a legacy on Sahuaro basketball…I’m hoping the younger kids see what they’re leaving behind and what they left, and continue that tradition of not just winning but being a tightknit group. I think that’s what’s important.” 

Congratulations girls, your legacy will live on at Sahuaro, and your impact will stay on the courts forever!

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About the Contributor
Mia Payette
Mia Payette, Editor
Mia Payette is a junior at Sahuaro High School. She likes to stay busy by being involved with school. Mia plays snare drum in the marching band and has been a percussionist since 5th grade. Band takes up a huge piece of her heart, and she is President of the Band Club. She is also a part of book club and runs social media (@sahuaro_bookworms on IG). This year she is adding The Paper Cut to her list of involvements, but her passion for writing and journalism started in her middle school journalism class. She attended a camp at the UofA this year to reignite her love for writing, and she hopes to attend their School of Journalism after she graduates. Mia has a predilection for all things colorful and you can often find her wearing her favorite color pink. She loves to accessorize and make her own jewelry to reflect her personal style. Mia is a nostalgic person and takes pictures to remember the past and where she was at that exact moment. Her phone has over 6,000 pictures. The sunset, friends, and her dog are her favorite subjects for taking photos. She has an older sister, Tara, who recently graduated, leaving Mia to spend these next two years at Sahuaro on her own!

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