Emma Wall trying to make most of opportunity transferring to Sabino

One year to the very day, Emma Wall, one of Southern Arizona’s top prospects, played her previous game at Sabino High School with Tanque Verde. She had 26 points, at the time a career high, in an overtime loss to Sabino.

On that same court Friday night, she wore a Sabino uniform and tallied a team-high 16 points in her debut with the Sabercats in their 74-33 loss to Salpointe.

Wall’s basketball journey fits right in with the abnormal year.

“It was great being back on the court after a year without basketball,” Wall mentioned. “It was a tough loss to Salpointe, but I’m confident our team will come together and bounce back.”

Wall had only two practices with Sabino before Friday’s game after transferring early this week from Tanque Verde, which is not fielding a girls team this year because of a lack of participants.

The AIA is allowing immediate eligibility if a school does not field a team or cancels the sport because of COVID-19.

“This season personally I just want to grow as a basketball player and improve game by game, and for my team, I want to win the conference and make a run at state,” Wall mentioned.

Sabino (1-1) is being coached by James Jackson this season (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Wall was already looking forward, communicating this well after the time expired in the loss to the Lancers, who have one of the most experienced lineups in Southern Arizona.

“She’s a good player. She’s tough to defend,” said Salpointe senior Jaya Nelson, who is similarly difficult to stop.

Nelson, a guard who has signed with Alderson-Broaddus University, had six points in the first quarter, when Salpointe established control with a 26-12 lead.

Salpointe coach Joseph Luevano directs guard Bria Medina in the first half (Javier Morales./AllSportsTucson.com)

She finished with 10 points, one of four players in double-figure scoring for the Lancers, who are off to a 3-0 start.

Kylee Calaban led Salpointe with 16 points, Madeline Namanny had 12 and Bria Medina had 10. Tessa Hastings finished with nine points and 6-foot-7 post player Achol Magot had eight points.

Salpointe is off to a 3-0 start (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

“Obviously, with the pandemic, seasons haven’t been going the way they’re supposed to across the whole board, not just women’s basketball, so I’m just happy that we’ve been able to play and come out like we did,” Nelson said. “Even if we didn’t come out as strong as we did, just to have the opportunity to play is really big for our team.”

Nelson, the younger sister of former Lancer standout Evan Nelson, now attending Harvard, has averaged 14.3 points in Salpointe’s wins over Cholla, Marana and Sabino.

Jaya Nelson and Salpointe played an aggressive man-to-man defense against Sabino, shown here guarding Kadie Healy (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

“Honestly, I have grown all around, basketball-wise, with my shot, my ball handling, all the basic stuff that you obviously need for basketball, but even my leadership skills, my IQ, I think I’ve grown in that way too,” Jaya said. “This year, being a team captain — I was a captain last year too — but I just think that also says a lot about my growth, and just being able to help the girls on my team, and not just myself.”

Nelson is approaching 1,000 career points with 883 heading into Tuesday’s home game against Nogales. She guided Salpointe to the 4A state quarterfinals last season.

Wall knows what it takes to make a run to the state tournament against difficult odds. Despite Tanque Verde fielding a roster of only eight players last year, with about six of them playing a bulk of the minutes, Wall led the Hawks to the 3A state playoffs.

She achieved a near triple-double in their opening round win over Arizona College Prep with a career-high 34 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.

Sabino’s Emma Wall defended by Salpointe’s Jaya Nelson (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

She averaged 14.6 points and 6.7 rebounds last year. She has played at the varsity level since her freshman season and is at 689 career points in 62 career games.

“I believe we have the talent to do this,” Wall said. “We just need to work really hard.”


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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