Sunnyside’s Nayeli Nidez-Acuña at 1,000 career points, potentially can reach as many rebounds

Sunnyside senior forward Nayeli Nidez-Acuña is closing in on one of the most storied statistic milestones in girls hoops history in the state.

She reached 1,000 career points in Wednesday night’s 64-56 win over Pueblo at Desert View, scoring 24 to place her at 1,017. Sunnyside is playing some of its home games at nearby Desert View this season while its gym roof is renovated.

The potential to reach 1,000 career rebounds is in sight after Nidez-Acuña’s eight rebounds in the game put her at 794.

“Hopefully, I can hit 1K in rebounds as well,” Nidez-Acuña said. “We’re going to have to wait until the end of the year for that one.”

Sunnyside is 9-1 with potentially close to 20 games remaining in the season.

She would have to average approximately 10.3 rebounds a game to reach 1,000 rebounds in her career — very much attainable for the very active forward.

Flowing Wells’ Taneisha Gossett reached 2,043 career points and 1,247 rebounds in her career from 1990 to 1994.

The last player in the state to reach those milestones was Mayer’s Abbigail Colquitt, who had 1,000 points and 1,562 rebounds from 2018-22.

Nidez-Acuña has started since her freshman season of 2020-21, a year marred by game cancellations because of COVID-19 protocol. She played in only nine games that season. With a full slate of games that year, reaching the 1,000-1,000 plateau in points and rebounds may not have been as challenging.

“It shows the hard work she has put in all this time with myself and other coaches as well — Adam Bernal from AZ Bamba Fitness,” Sunnyside fourth-year coach Justin Delgado said of Nidez-Acuña reaching 1,000 points. “She’s been putting in for a long time. I think it’s a cultivation of her and all the hard work she’s done.

“What it means to our team is, ‘Hey, somebody here can accomplish it. She has started for me every year since she was a freshman. She and Alana Felix have been there since Day One. To me, that’s very special.”

Nidez-Acuña, who said she will be committing soon to a college, is the identifiable leader of a group that has a solid mix of freshmen with veterans.

One of the youngest players, freshman Ylana Gross (last name pronounced grahs) has already started her path to a potential 1,000 points in her career.

She had 19 points in the win over Pueblo with three 3-pointers and is already at 104 points through 10 games for a 10.4 average.

“I felt really comfortable out there,” Gross said. “We played really good as a team and everybody contributed. We played our best basketball game with a lot of energy.”

Gross added that Nidez-Acuña is a mentor that is someone she and the younger players can look up to for the right way to play the game.

“She handles herself really well on the court and she does a good job of explaining things,” Gross said. “She does a good job of guiding me through certain situations.”

Nidez-Acuña talks of her young players as if she is their coach, saying, “I’m very proud of them.”

As the captain, she is certainly the coach on the floor.

The Blue Devils’ only loss was a 40-35 decision to an unbeaten Show Low (9-0) team that will challenge for the 3A title. That game was the last of five in the Inferno Invitational that the Blue Devils hosted at Palo Verde last week.

“I’m very proud to call them my team; I love every single one of them,” Nidez-Acuña said. “I’m proud of how close we became, just being a young team and gaining that experience with each other.”


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. He became an educator in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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