LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) — After the Las Vegas Aces won the WNBA championship in Connecticut on Sunday, the young women of a high school basketball team in Las Vegas shared with FOX5 what it means to them. to see their hometown team win the WNBA championship.
“I just knew they had to stick together and pull through, like, I knew we had it in the bag! I knew it!” said Aliah Jackson, a senior college basketball player at Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas.
“We were all like watching TV,” described another senior varsity player on the team, Halle McKnight. “And finally – like finally – when the game was over, we were like, ‘Whew!’ And like, it was fun.
McKnight and his parents are season ticket holders. Jackson is also a lifelong fan of the Aces. Both high school students told FOX5 that it was inspiring to develop their game alongside the Aces.
“Of course, going to some of the games that were here, and just seeing how far they’ve come and then winning the championship,” Jackson said.
Their coach, Chris Roussel, said he was delighted to see the recognition of women’s basketball thanks to the Aces.
“I think what the Aces did, you know, put more of a spotlight on women’s basketball in the Valley,” Roussel said.
“It’s amazing how hard the female athletes in the WNBA have had to cope from the start,” she said.
Roussel also said he was eager to point to the success of the Aces — and certain maneuvers on the court — as teachable moments.
“As Kelsey Plum came into the lane and made that jump stop and ended up – sort of – extending the lead to six, like, it’s great to see things you’re coaching. These women at the professional level do things that you kind of try to teach your young women,” Roussel said.
They all told me it would be monumental to get more girls into the sport of basketball; something that can only be positive for the camaraderie and general well-being in the communities of our valley.
“The younger generation, they see girls playing basketball and they’re like, ‘I can do this too,’ and then they become basketball players, and like, they’re going to get better, and I think it’s just going to grow like the basketball community,” McKnight said.
This is something Roussel also echoed.
“I think it shows girls what’s possible with hard work and determination,” Roussel said.
Jackson said it made the goal of a championship more attainable.
“Definitely shows how relatable they are,” Jackson said. “And shows how things like this – championships – seem out of reach for young female athletes, but when you see it in your own city, it seems like an attainable goal.”
Athletes and commentators behind Ball Dawgs, a Las Vegas-based local outlet run by a former Las Vegas high school basketball player, said the win was nothing short of historic and monumental.
“It goes into the history books! It’s like the first thing you think of: the first major championship is a women’s team,” said Marq Mosley, vice president of Ball Dawgs. “[Women players in Las Vegas] love the Aces. They always try to go to the Aces games. They love the players; I definitely have an impact… Got someone in your backyard that you can look up to and model your game after? It will change like the whole perspective of women’s football.
He continued: “It’s great for them…we have a championship from our city, like winning our – from our hometown – our hometown champions.”
He said he will be at Tuesday’s 5:30 p.m. celebration parade on the Las Vegas Strip wearing full Aces gear.
“I don’t care how hot it is, I’m outside!” Mosley said.
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