Warriors meet West High girls: NBA champs honor persevering Pioneers

After an abrupt end to the season for the Wichita West High School girl's basketball team, their continued dedication to the sport has led to a special honor.
Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 7:16 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Through adversity, the Pioneers persevered. After an abrupt end to the season for the Wichita West High School girls’ basketball team, their continued dedication to the sport led to a special honor Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.

Looking ahead, the Pioneer girls’ basketball team is already looking forward to next season and what they hope to accomplish.

“We coming back, man,” sophomore Ty Hardwell said.

“Hard,” teammate and fellow sophomore Sa’Miaya Coleman added.

This season had a heartbreaking end after seven games due to circumstances that left the West High girls’ basketball team without enough players to compete.

“To this day, I really do wish we could have continued our season because I just know we could have done something great,” said West High junior Ryonia Cornelius.

The early end to the season cleared the schedule of games, but the group of student athletes continued their work on the hardwood as if the season wasn’t over.

Hardwell, Coleman and Cornelius kept practicing.

“Don’t give up on it. Just keep going. That’s what we did. We kept going,” Coleman said.

When Golden State Warriors Senior Vice President of Communications Raymond Ridder heard about the players endurance after adversity, the Wichita native organized an evening they’ll never forget.

“The perseverance that these young ladies have shown is incredible,” Ridder said. “Life is all about how you handle the circumstances that you’re put into, and they were dealt a bad hand this year.”

When the Warriors played in Oklahoma City Tuesday night, six of the West High players sat courtside during warmups and got to meet the team.

Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr and players for the defending NBA champs left the girls with words of inspiration.

“It means the world to me. It really does (because) I know that was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Coleman said. “We’re going to continue to put in the work.”

Next season, the girls’ basketball players from Wichita West said they’re ready to prove what they can do.

“All the schools, no matter what. I really want us to come out and show them that we are little but we are a powerhouse,” Cornelius said.