Laguna-Acoma’s Talia Paytiamo (left) and Deja Kie-Lorenzo hold up their signed Letter of Intent to play basketball at Little Priest Tribal College in Winnebago, Nebraska. The pair graduate in May and were part of the Lady Hawks program for the past five years and helped their team advance to the semi-finals of the state basketball tournament finishing with a 24-5 record.
The signing was the highlight of the night when head coach Steven Gilbert and his 24-6 Lady Hawks held their team banquet in front of a full house at Laguna-Acoma High School.
Paytiamo said it was a bittersweet moment for her when she put pen to paper and signed her name to the paper that not only lets her play basketball, but also work towards getting a college education.
“Honestly it felt good to be moving on but sad at the same time knowing that I’m going to be somewhere else, I will have Deja, but I’m going to be somewhere else staying away from family and them not coming to see me because they have been there with me from the beginning.” Paytiamo said. “I’m not going to hear my dad yelling at me or everyone cheering for me.”
Kie-Lorenzo echoed her teammates sentiments but she is looking forward to stepping up her game and playing at the next level.
“It’s going to be a whole new ball game because it’s a higher level and I feel pretty excited but at the same time sad because I have to leave everything here,” said Kie-Lorenzo.
Gilbert said Paytiamo and Kie-Lorenzo have the work ethic needed to succeed at the next level because when he started at Laguna-Acoma a little less than a year, the pair showed up and put in the work needed to get ready for the season that was still several months away.
He said he could always count on Paytiamo and Kie-Lorenzo to show up and work on their game while other players avoided the workouts and found other things to do during the summers instead of prepping for the season.
Gilbert sent video to Little Priest head coach Leonard Erickson and the coach said he was excited to offer the duo a chance to head to Nebraska and join the Warriors.
“I was always impressed with how hard they always played,” said Erickson. “They always seemed to be getting after it and going for loose balls and that’s the one thing that kind of stood out for me.”
He added Paytiamo and Kie-Lorenzo will fit into his program that is up-tempo on offense and an emphasis on playing man-to-man defense. Erickson added that he will change it up on defense making it harder to prepare for his team.
Erickson said he likes that Kie-Lorenzo can hit from the outside and that Paytiamo’s game is something all coaches look for.
“I’m excited to be adding them to our roster,” Erickson said.
Gilbert said the time he spent breaking down film was worth it because players like Paytiamo and Kie-Lorenzo. He said they get to continue to play basketball at the next level and also get an education in the process.
“They deserve it,” he said.