St. Michael: From dark horse to favorite in one year

Girls scramble for ball

Navajo Times | Ravonelle Yazzie
While being guarded by Greyhills Academy Knight Queenssa Bedonie (40), St. Michael juard Jalynn Smith attempts a layup under the basket on Dec. 5 in Fort Defiance.


Going into last year’s Arizona Class 1A girls state basketball playoffs, the St. Michael Lady Cardinals were one of the dark horses of the tournament as the No. 5 seed.

The Lady Cardinals upset the top-seeded Fort Thomas in the state semifinals before they beat archrival Rock Point in the 1A championship game. That was the Lady Cardinals’ only win over Rock Point in five tries.

St. Michael returns six players from that state championship team so they are one of the pre-favorites to win this year’s crown. They are headed by the senior class of Jalynn Smith, Sydney Terry, Delila Nakaidinae, Taylor Foster and Chrissa Dunn. Sophomore Ali Upshaw also played an integral part in that championship team.

“We have a lot of the girls back from last year’s state championship team,” St. Michael coach Carl Adams said, adding that Upshaw, Smith and Nakaidinae are his top players for this year’s squad.

Adams said Upshaw can dribble the ball with both hands and she has a very high basketball IQ.

“She can shoot the ball and she shot the dagger that helped us defeat Fort Thomas last year in the Final Four round,” he said.

As for Smith, Adams said his senior guard is a threat on both sides of the court and when she’s not the leading scorer she makes it up in other areas, such as assists, rebounds and steals.

“She will play basketball at the next level next year,” he said. “She has a 3-4 offers and she’s waiting till the end of the season to decide where she is going to go.”

Adams said Nakaidinae is a great rebounder who controls the paint.

“She is our quarterback for defense,” he said. “She has a great presence on the inside and she is going to be our second leading scorer on the team.”

 To read the full article, pick up your copy of the Navajo Times at your nearest newsstand Thursday mornings!

Are you a digital subscriber? Read the most recent three weeks of stories by logging in to your online account.

  Find newsstand locations at this link.

Or, subscribe via mail or online here.

Categories: Basketball

About Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at