Anitielu to sign letter of intent to play for Northwest College

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON − Senior Kamalani Anitielu, one of the all-time leading scorers in girls basketball at Farmington High School, has agreed to continue her basketball career and education at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming.

Anitielu, who passed the 1,000 point career mark during the previous season, is one of only five Lady Scorpions to surpass that plateau, joining in addition to others, her older sister Kiiyani Anitielu, who just finished her freshman campaign playing for Adams State University in Colorado.

Kamalani helped lead the Lady Scorpions to a 25-4 record this past season, guiding the team to the Class 5A state quarterfinals before losing to Las Cruces. In five seasons playing for Farmington, she scored nearly 1,200 points while also leading the team with 106 assists and 63 steals in her senior season.

Anitelu averaged more than 12 points per game in her first three full seasons for the Lady Scorpions, then averaged nearly 15 points per game in her senior campaign. She scored 20 or more points in six games this past season, with her biggest performance coming in a district victory on Feb. 7 at West Mesa in which she scored 35 points, going 7-for-12 from behind the 3-point line.

Farmington's Kamalani Anitielu (3) dribbles past Navajo Prep's Shiloh Conn (22) during the first quarter of their girls basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022 at the Eagles Nest.

"One of her (Kamalani) strengths is that while she has individual goals, our team goals and our team's success has always been what's most important," said Farmington head coach Tom Adair. "She is a complete player in every way."

Anitielu has had the fortune of playing for the two of the region's most celebrated basketball coaches, in both Adair and prior to that, Larenson Henderson, for whom she played each of her first three full seasons.

"Both of those coaches really taught me a lot," Anitielu said. "They really pushed us to be at our best and really treated me and the rest of us like their own daughters."

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The Northwest College Trappers wrapped up a 20-10 season in early March with a loss to Trinidad State College in the a postseason tournament. The team plays in the National Junior College Athletic Association's North Region IX, made up of schools from across the state. The team finished second overall in the standings last season behind Casper College.

"I had a chance to visit with them during spring break and even got in a couple of practices with them," Anitielu said. "I got a really good feeling meeting with some of the players and really liked the campus and the coaches."

Coached by Lauren Davis, the Trappers were led last season by Darla Hernandez who averaged more than 16 points per game. Roxanne Rogers and Jimena Montoro-Cabezas also scored in double figures for the team last season. Hernandez and Rogers were both named to the All-Region first team at the conclusion of the campaign.

"They had a really good team," Adair said of the Trappers. "(Anitielu) is the only freshman they're bringing in for next season. "They had 10 freshmen on last season's team so they're bringing back some top players."

Playing away from home and attending college in a different environment can be challenging for most, but it's a challenge that Anitielu is learning to embrace. She has learned a lot from older sister Kiiyani about those challenges.

"It's scary but also a lot of it is excitement to be a part of something," Anitielu said. "My sister had such a good experience at Adams State and she's helped me a lot through this process."

Anitielu's formal signing ceremony will take place next week at Farmington High School as she winds down her high school career. Most recently, she played in the New Mexico High School Coaches Association All-Star game at Gallup High School, leading her team to victory in the contest.