Lady Broncos gain valuable experience, make strides toward a positive future in 2021-22 season
by Rhett Sifford
Entering the 2021-2022 basketball season, the San Juan High School girls were looking to build varsity experience and make strides on their game individually and as a team. Though they struggled a bit in the win/loss column, they did just that.
The Lady Broncos picked up four wins on the season, including two over county rival Monticello, one over Bayfield, and a nice first-round state tournament win over Maeser Prep Academy on the road.
That win propelled San Juan into the second round of the 2A state tournament, where the girls faced a trip to Millard on February 18 to take on the #3-ranked Lady Eagles (who went on to lose to eventual state champion Kanab in the semifinals).
The Lady Broncos fought valiantly, but suffered a 62-41 loss to Millard to close out their season with a 4-21 record. Head Coach Laura Stearns was obviously disappointed with how the season ended but proud of her girls.
Reflecting on the season, she offered several thoughts to the San Juan Record via email. “The girls played some great teams pre-region and then had very competitive region play,” she wrote, “so I don't feel the record reflects their capabilities as a team.
“This year we had a large junior and sophomore group that contributed a lot in our varsity game. Senessa Attcity and Shaylin Nez, both sophomores, jumped leaps and bounds in their skill level and confidence during the season.
“I am excited to see what these two are capable of doing together on the court in the future. Our juniors Serina Yanito, Kaeah Howard, and Adri Johnson all had a great year too.
“Serina had some stand-out games during the season. Her speed and quickness are unmatched against most opponents. Kaeah had some great games underneath the basket and has opened up her range to the three-point line.
“Adri did a great job for us at the high post and it was awesome to see her have some success there during the final games of the season.
“Our seniors Halli Palmer, Khalil Eyetoo, and Draikiia Lehi gave us everything they had this year. They had some ups and downs, but it was great to see them all at our last game and giving it their all.
“Halli contributed a lot at the three-point line for us this year. We look forward to a great offseason and a stronger season next year.”
Junior Serina Yanito led the offensive attack for the Lady Broncos this season with 237 points. She finished just under ten points per game at 9.9 ppg.
Fellow junior Kaeah Howard scored 198 points for San Juan this season and senior Halli Palmer rounded out the top three with 181.
Adriana Johnson was next in line with 91 points on the season, Shaylin Nez got 83, Draikiia Lehi added 57, and Synessa Atcitty scored 42.
Paige Bitsoie scored 31 points on the year, Khalil Eyetoo poured in 28, Khadija Lee got 23, Hayden Shumway scored ten, Mykayi Fowler and Brittney Lansing contributed five apiece, and Macee Palmer scored three.
Halli Palmer led the team with 34 three-point baskets, Yanito dropped in 21, Nez scored 15, and Howard got 12.
As Coach Stearns expressed, Howard was the team’s leading rebounder in 2021-22 with 159 boards. Yanito helped out with 99 and Johnson pulled down 94.
Defensively, Yanito was credited with 61 steals and seven blocked shots on the season. Howard had 46 steals and a team-high nine blocks. Halli Palmer collected 28 steals to go along with four blocks.
As a team, the Lady Broncos shot 29 percent from the floor this season. They hit 97 three-pointers and were 23 percent from beyond the arc. They were just over 50 percent from the free throw line.
Though it wasn’t the season they wanted in the win/loss department, San Juan gained valuable varsity experience and worked hard to improve their game night in and night out.
The good news is that the Lady Broncos will return almost everybody in 2022-23, including six of their top eight scorers. This year’s team laid a strong foundation that sets San Juan up for a positive future.