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NGony fouled by MKrull at State

Lincoln High’s Nyayongah Gony (14) gets fouled by Millard South’s Madison Krull (42) in the second half on March 1 during an NSAA Class A first-round game at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Gony hopes to help the Links return to the state tournament this season.

Anyone else?

That's the question Nyayongah Gony asks when she considers her preparation for basketball.

The 6-foot-2 Lincoln High junior forward works five hours a day during the off season – working out, playing against good competition, concentrating on drills.

"We go two-a-days on my club team (Bison) in the summer, and I work hard in the fall," Gony said. "It's a thing I love, and I can see how it pays off. I'm more athletic, maybe a little more intimidating, shooting a little better and I'm quicker."

College recruiters have noticed.

Last year, older sister Nyagoa earned a scholarship to Purdue. The sisters helped pep Lincoln High to the state tournament last March – the first state tourney berth for LHS since 2004.

This season, with Nyayongah back, a number of other players returning, and with the addition of Kaysia Woods, a sophomore transfer from Lincoln Northeast, the Links expect to be a top contender in Class A.

New Lincoln High coach Dominique Kelley-Johnson knows her team will get plenty of attention, especially with Gony and Woods leading the way.

"People are inspired by what Nyayongah does in handling the ball, passing the ball and the way she's worked to improve her outside shooting," said Kelley-Johnson, a standout in high school at Northeast and at Nebraska. She also worked as assistant coach at Drake before taking over the Links this summer.

"Nyayongah has picked up so much interest from college coaches (Nebraska, Florida State, Colorado State and Louisville), and I'm excited for her and this team," Kelley-Johnson said.

During the summer, Louisville coach Jeff Walz, who took his team to the Final Four last March, made sure he spent time watching Gony play with the Bison team during a trip to Kentucky.

"She's a good student and she leads by example, and that's only going to get her more attention once she finds another gear," Kelley-Johnson said.

Gony is excited about another season and another chance to play for Lincoln High.

"My goodness, I am so grateful for the chance to play something I never thought about until a few years ago when I saw 'High School Musical' and the character of Tony Parker, a basketball player," Gony said. "I never thought it was possible. My first crush and my eyes open to basketball."

As for basketball, Gony said she is motivated by the fear of missing something.

"I feel if I quit something, I'll miss out," she said.

She is driven to drive on the court and in a car this year.

"I need to be a player going to the hoop more and shooting quicker, and I need a little more confidence to learn how to drive a car," Gony said. "That makes this a big year in school and everything else in my life."

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L Magazine editor

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