Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009 | 9:11 p.m.
Green Valley High's Vajae Robinson wasn't always sure she wanted to play basketball. Her teammates on the Gators' basketball team are glad she does.
The 6-foot, 2-inch senior center is third in Southern Nevada with 12 rebounds per game and is a key reason Green Valley is one of the best teams in the Sunrise Region.
"Vajae changes the game up," Green Valley coach Lorenzo Jarvis said. "She can get in the paint, grab the ball and put it back. It changes our flow and forces the other team to respond. She poses a big threat, and she's been a big key to our success this year."
Robinson's success is made even more impressive by the fact that she, unlike most of her teammates, did not begin playing organized basketball until her freshman year.
She was always urged by teachers and friends to take up the sport because of her height. She finally gave in when she arrived at Green Valley, and three years later, she has become an indispensable member of the Southeast Division-leading Gators.
Green Valley (25-3) has won 14 straight games and is 13-0 in the Southeast as of Feb. 10, one week before the regional tournament.
"It feels really good to know that I've been helping my team and doing whatever I can to help us win," Robinson said. "We just have to keep playing our game and not let ourselves play down to our opponent."
Green Valley was in a similar spot last year.
Despite winning the league title and beating rival Silverado twice in the regular season last year, the Gators fell 61-49 to Silverado in the regional finals. Green Valley won the first meeting Jan. 27 against Silverado 64-49 and they played again Feb. 12 in the regular season finale after the Home News went to press. For the latest results, visit LasVegasSun.com.
"Last year we were so close that it really hurt when we lost," Robinson said. "We don't want to go through that again. This year we work together as a team more. We help each other, and we know we all have a job to do and we make sure we do it."
Senior forward Aja Flippen said Robinson continues to improve with each game.
"It's kind of shocking to see how good Vajae has gotten since she was a freshman, but I kind of knew she had it in her," Flippen said. "She's developed a lot as a player and she's become a crucial part of our team. We couldn't do it without her."
Jared Harmon can be reached at 990-8922 or firstname.lastname@example.org.