The NCAA men’s tournament is in full swing, and on Saturday the women’s tournament will get underway. This year, Seattle will host games in the opening round. Those games will feature Gonzaga and the University of Washington.
The Huskies are looking to make a repeat trip to the Final Four. Coach Mike Neighbors, Kelsey Plum, and company were upset in the PAC 12 tournament by the University of Oregon, so they are looking to rebound. The three seeded Huskies will take on number 14, Montana State, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
In the first game, the number 11 seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs will take on the number 6 ranked Oklahoma Sooners. The Bulldogs program has had a lot of success in recent years, and they hope to keep it going in this year’s tournament.
When the Bulldogs make the trip to Seattle, it will be a bit of a homecoming for Clover Park High School alum Zykera Rice. The 6’1’ Sophomore grew up in Lakewood and had a lot of success while she was there. She was a 1000 point scorer, a three-sports athlete, and a great student.
“The thing that I’m always going to appreciate the most about ‘Z’ is that so many times, especially with this generation of kids when you have kind of a player that’s very good, they don’t feel that they have to work as hard. But I challenged her right away when I came in and said, ‘Everything is going to be defined by how hard you work,' and she took that and ran with it,” Zykera’s former coach Jordan Pritchard said. “She was first when we ran the lines, she was the first one to practice and the last one to leave, she’s the one who stayed after games and wanted to know, ‘What should I have done differently’? And that’s the part that I’m going to remember.”
Her former teacher remembers her as a great student.
“She often had a very dynamic personality, outgoing, and willing to help others, and she brought in a lot of school spirit and enthusiasm. She was always great to have in class, always a hard worker, always pushed kids to be better than what they were, and was a great contributor to Clover Park High School,” Trina Chambers said.
Much of her friends and family will be cheering loud when Gonzaga takes the court on Saturday.
“She’s just a great inspiration to all students who want to be successful, to follow your dreams and your passion, and if you work hard and you are dedicated, you are going to achieve your goals,” Chambers added.