Girls basketball players in Las Vegas inspired by Aces championship, discuss influence on future generations

Young women on a high school basketball team in Las Vegas shared with FOX5 what it means to them to watch their hometown team win the WNBA championship.
Published: Sep. 18, 2022 at 9:53 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - After the Las Vegas Aces won the WNBA championship in Connecticut on Sunday, young women on a high school basketball team in Las Vegas shared with FOX5 what it means to them to watch their hometown team win the WNBA championship.

“I just knew they had to stick together and get through it, like, I knew we had it in the bag! I knew it!” said Aliah Jackson, senior varsity basketball player at Palo Verde High School in Las Vegas.

“We were all like in front of the TV,” described another senior varsity player on the team, Halle McKnight. “And finally — like finally — when the game was over, we were like, ‘Whew!’ And like, it was fun.”

McKnight and her parents are season ticketholders. Jackson is also a longtime fan of the Aces. Both high schoolers told FOX5 that it’s been inspiring to grow their game alongside the Aces.

“Of course going to some of the games that were here, and just seeing how far they have come and then winning the championship,” said Jackson.

Their coach, Chris Roussel, said he is pleased to see the recognition women’s basketball is getting, thanks to the Aces.

“I think what the Aces have done has, you know, kind of put more of a spotlight on women’s basketball in the valley,” said Roussel.

Jackson agreed.

“It’s amazing to see because of how much adversity the WNBA women athletes have faced from the beginning,” she said.

Roussel also said that he looks forward to pointing to the Aces success-- and certain maneuvers on the court-- as teachable moments.

“As Kelsey Plum got into the lane, and made that jump stop and finished-- to kind of-- extend the lead to six, like, it’s great to see things that you coach. These women at the professional level do things that you’re kind of trying to teach your young women,” said Roussel.

They all told me this will be monumental for getting more girls into the sport of basketball; something that can only be a positive for camaraderie and overall wellness in our valley’s communities.

“The younger generation, they see girls playing basketball and they’re like, ‘I can do that too,’ and so then they become playing basketball, and like, they’ll improve, and I think it’ll just grow like the basketball community altogether,” said McKnight.

That is something Roussel echoed as well.

“I think it shows the girls what’s possible with hard work and determination,” said Roussel.

Jackson said it makes the goal of a championship feel more attainable.

“Definitely shows how relatable they are,” said Jackson. “And shows how stuff like this -- championships -- it seems unreachable to young children young female athletes, but when you see it in your own city, it just seems like a reachable goal.”

The athletes and commentators behind Ball Dawgs, a local media outlet based in Las Vegas and led by a former high school basketball player in Las Vegas, said the win is nothing short of historic and monumental.

“It goes in the history books! It’s just like, the first thing you’ll think of: first major championship is a women’s team,” said Marq Mosley, Vice President of Ball Dawgs. “[Women players in Las Vegas] love the Aces. They always try to go to the Aces games. They love the players; i’s definitely an impact... You have somebody in your backyard you can look up to and be able to model your game after? It will change like the whole prospect of the women’s game.”

He continued, “It’s great for them... we have a championship from our city, like winning our-- from our hometown-- hometown champions.”

He said he will be at Tuesday’s 5:30 p.m. celebration parade on the Las Vegas Strip, donned in full Aces gear.

“I don’t care how hot it is, I’m out there!” said Mosley.