Richfield's Lord takes in the madness of March
Her role has changed since her days as a star basketball player at Richfield High School, but Richfield native Alexa Lord is about to achieve what many high school players only dream about. Coming off an 82-37 win over Cal Baptist in the Western Athletic Conference tournament championship game Saturday night, Lord and her Southern Utah University teammates are headed next for the NCAA Tournament.
The Thunderbirds earned a No. 14 seed when the tournament brackets were released Sunday, and will face No. 3-seeded Notre Dame Friday to open tourney play. The game will be played in South Bend, Indiana, on the home court of the Fighting Irish.
Lord, a 5-foot-9 senior guard, arrived at SUU after an outstanding high school career with the Lady Wildcats that ended when she graduated in 2019.
“So excited for Alexa and her opportunity to participate in the NCAA Tournament,” said Richfield High girls basketball coach March Peterson, who was Lord’s high school coach at RHS. “That is a great honor for her and one that not very many athletes get to do. She worked so hard in high school and that carried on with her into college. She is the ultimate team player that has given SUU some great minutes this season.”
While she starred on her high school teams, Lord has become a critical reserve on this Thunderbird roster. After seeing limited playing time until this year, she has averaged 16 minutes, 3.4 points, and three rebounds per game this season coming off the bench at SUU.
Lord’s season high came in an early-season contest when so saw big minutes and dropped in 30 points.
Lord credits the things she learned playing ball in her youth for the player she is today.
“Starting from little Richfield, the tradition there and having so many supporting coaches and teammates really pushed me,” she said. “I feel like I learned a lot about work ethic and teamwork through my coaches and teammates in Richfield. I tried to continue that as I went to Southern Utah. I’ve had great coaches at Southern Utah and really great teammates. I’ve tried to really learn my role as part of this upper-division basketball. It’s been a really cool experience.”
Her ability to lean into the supporting role comes from the love of the game she developed while playing on the courts of Sevier County.
“The biggest thing I learned in Richfield playing basketball is a love for the game,” Lord said. “I definitely have a different role at Southern Utah than I did playing basketball in Richfield, but I still have that same passion for it. It was a new role for me, and it was kind of tough. It was cool to help my team in any way I can, even if I wasn’t on the floor. Just giving them energy and pushing them in practice as much as I could and work my way to getting more playing time.”
Lord never imagined reaching the NCAA tournament, but she is enjoying the ride.
“I was just hoping to be able to play college ball, and I was content just making it there, but it’s super humbling, it’s a really cool experience,” she said. “I’m grateful that I get to be a part of it.”
During this, its first year in the WAC, SUU earned the school’s first-ever NCAA Women’s Tournament berth.
“It’s been so cool,” Lord said. “I’m still processing it myself. Being able to make history with some of the most amazing people I know has been really neat, and the community here has been so supportive. It’s been really fun to go through this dream with them. We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, but it’s really cool to come out top in the end.”
The teamwork aspect of the game, and the balance on the SUU roster has led to this success, and will be critical as the team hopes to shock the world in the tournament.
“We have so many talented girls, we have so many different weapons we can use,” Lord said. “We have some guards who are really good at getting to the basket, and we have great shooters and we have some really talented bigs. We all work together really well. It’s not just one person taking over. Everyone brings an important piece to the puzzle.”
As for the matchup, Lord and her teammates were pleasantly surprised to receive the No. 14 seed. She said they were expecting to be a 16.
“We were really surprised. We were expecting to go against a No. 1 seed,” Lord said. “Obviously, Notre Dame is super-talented. We’re just super excited for the opportunity.”