Girls Basketball Spotlight: Sahuaro Cougars

Conference: 4A

Region: Kino

Head coach: Steve Botkin (22nd season at Sahuaro and five years at Rincon/University for 27th season overall).

Assistants: Dani Kinter, Alyssa Botkin, Jan Boyd, Andrew Ortiz and Dave Cook.

Last Year: 23-6.

Sahuaro coach Steve Botkin is in his 22nd year as head coach of his alma mater (Sahuaro photo)


  • No. 10 Carly Coolidge (Soph., 5-10, G, 1st year)
  • No. 12 Kristen Valdez (Jr., 5’8. G, 2nd year)
  • No. 14 Ynnia Abella (Sr., 5’4, G, 1st year)
  • No. 20 Ayjianna Bonapart (Sr., 5’8, G, 3rd year)
  • No. 22 Cesia Salazar (Sr., 5’5 F, 2nd year)
  • No. 24 Dinorah Lagarda-Pacheco (Jr., 5’6. G, 2nd year)
  • No. 30 Cassandra Coolidge (Jr., 6’0 G, 3rd year)
  • No. 32 Nashelle Ponds (Sr., 5’11, F, 3rd year)
  • No. 34 Ny’Anza Brown (Jr., 5’8, F, 1st year)
  • No. 40 Lauryn Hightower (Soph., 5’9, F, 1st year)
  • No. 42 Biale (Gift) Sika (Soph., 5’9, F, 1st year)
  • No. 44 Maggie Boyd. (Soph., 5’11, C, 1st year)

Noteworthy: Botkin is approaching 600 career wins with a record of 596-188 after the Cougars’ 6-0 start this season. … Bonaparte has the opportunity to eclipse 1,000 career points this season. She has 672 through the first six games. … Ponds is coming off a season with 82 steals and 30 blocked shots. … Cassandra Coolidge in her third year as a starter and is averaging 20.5 points and 7.7 rebounds through the first six games. … Sahuaro is part of one of the most competitive regions in the state with programs such as Salpointe, Flowing Wells, Pueblo and CDO.

Coach’s comments: “We have many returners from our quarterfinal squad last year. We also have some very talented newcomers. We will be attending the Estrella Foothills and Southern California Prep Classic Tournaments in December.  I feel that our division is one of the toughest in the state and should help prepare us for the playoffs.”

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