Nez Perce and Columbia Basin College Freshman Propels Team to Championship, Wins MVP
“I love the game a lot more than I did in high school. I love it. The season went wonderful,” Katherine (Katt) Samuels enthused.
Katt is now a freshman at Columbia Basin College (CBC) in Kennewick, Washington. CBC is part of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC), one of 32 schools in the league covering most of Oregon and Washington. She is Nez Perce and helped her Lapwai, Idaho high school win two state championships before moving on to college last fall. Now she’s also led her college basketball team to a conference tournament championship
Her coaches and fellow players also love Katt. Coach Cheryl Holden commented, “She’s very friendly, one of those types of players who is encouraging to her teammates and always has a smile on her face whether things are going well or not. It’s nice to have that because it really helps keep things calm and in perspective.”
Shawn Spencer coached Katt through her high school years in Lapwai and he had similar comments. “She smiles all the time. We got that everywhere we went. She’s diving on the floor, hustling, getting pushed or knocked down and getting up with a smile and taking off and going after it again.”
Those qualities plus her ability on the floor were rewarded at the end of this season. First of all, she was selected as the MVP for the NWAACC tournament. She was also selected as “Freshman of the Year” for the eastern region of the conference. In addition, she was also picked as a member of the defensive team. Pretty high honors for a young lady who was playing in high school just a year ago.
Katt plays the point guard position. “I think my strength is that I can see the whole court and am smart about where the pass should be. I like to pass. That’s my biggest strength. If the shot’s not there for me and I’m not really open, I know I can find someone with a better shot. That’s my goal. Some of my teammates are amazing at scoring.”
One of her teammates is Jenn Noon, a sophomore from Central Point, Oregon. “I think Katt is great,” she said. “She is honestly the most selfless point guard I’ve ever had the opportunity to play with. She is never worried about scoring but always worried about the next pass. She makes it fun because I can run the floor and know she’s always looking for me.”
Both coaches, Spencer and Holden, totally agree. Spencer said, “One of her problems in high school was she could pass the ball so well our girls couldn’t catch the ball. She had to adjust to that.”
Coach Holden commented when Katt first arrived at CBS she couldn’t get away with some of the passing she did in high school, “but she made the adjustment very quickly. Her game just continued to get better and better. She started to jell with her teammates, got to learn each other’s cuts and things like that. She would find them with no-look passes and just ran our team with a lot of effectiveness. Right from the beginning she acted like a leader.”
Her passing ability really showed during the four game conference tournament. She explained, “I broke the record for assists in the NWAACC tournament. The record was 25 in the tournament and I got 34.” Those who follow basketball know that averaging 8.5 assists a game in a four game tournament is exceptional.
Defense is another strength of her game. “We put her on the one or two top scorer of the other team and she had just a tremendous defensive game. Every section of the season she continued to improve and elevate her game,” coach Holden added.
It was the same story in high school. Spencer talked of her quickness and called her a “lock down defender.” She was normally called on to defend the opponent’s top scorer.
Asked about her reaction to winning the MVP award she responded by giving credit to the entire team. “We all did so good, but it’s an honor to get MVP.”