Player of the year Nzeukou to take talents to next level
Player of the year
Who: Sandrine Nzeukou, Rincon/University.
What she did: Nzeukou’s 6-foot-3 frame made her the instant focal point of any defensive scheme, and she excelled on offense as well in averaging 20.3 points and 13.4 rebounds.
Without her solid presence in the middle, it’s doubtful the Rangers would have advanced to the Class 4A Division I playoffs.
Notable: Nzeukou has played the sport since she was 7 years old, but her competitiveness didn’t kick in until about eighth grade.
“I think I started out pretty timid during the games, but as I grew I noticed that more aggressiveness was the key to the game,” Nzeukou said.
Nzeukou, who was also a first-team selection on the 2006 Tucson Citizen girls volleyball team this past fall, will continue her basketball career at Texas-Arlington.
Quotable: “Playing hard in practice certainly translates into the game,” Nzeukou said. “I decided that this was what I needed to do and lead my team as far as we could go this year.”
Coach of the year
Who: Steve Botkin, Sahuaro
What he did: Coming into this past season, the Cougars had an unclear future. Key players from last season graduated, and Botkin was left with a bevy of young players. Throw in the loss of a key player because of a transfer and everything seemed up in the air.
But Sahuaro finished 27-4, including an 11-0 record in the Class 4A Kino Region for the second straight season.
“The first day of practice the girls had some goals and one of them was to win the region and go unbeaten,” Botkin said. “I thought that was a pretty huge goal and their confidence was pretty awesome.”
The Cougars started strong, storming through the Boyd Baker Classic and establishing themselves as a defensive force.
Their season ended in a loss in the 4A-DI stte quarterfinals to Avondale Agua Fria.
Quotable: “I think our expectations will be really high next year and there is going to be some added pressure,” Botkin said. “They have tasted success and they want to take one more step and go further.”