Local youth's trip to national basketball competition cut short due to COVID-19

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) The Juarez family is all about basketball. The time Izabella put in here at home raised her game to new heights.

"When it came time to the competition, I practiced every day for about an hour a day," said 12-year-old Izabella Juarez.

Izabella has been hooping since she could hold on to the basketball. Since the age of nine, she made it through the local, district and state level of the basketball free throw competition. But 2020 was the year she was going to take it farther.

"I remember this last summer, she would come in the house and tell us she was going to nationals," said her father Aaron Juarez. "We'd be outside and she would look at an airplane, she would say that's going to be us going to Chicago next year."

She would work hours a day trying to get as many free throws out of 25 shots as she could.

"A good round for her was 20 out of 25. Now a good round for her 24-25 out of 25," her dad said.

Izabella made it past the state level to regionals, knocking on the door of nationals, something no one has done from Grand Junction.

"Being a parent is definitely a little bit more nervous than actually playing," dad said.

"My body shakes a lot when doing it. I just try to control it and act like I'm shooting in my back yard," Izabella said. "It was amazing, when I made it to regionals, I was so excited. I was 25 shots away from going to nationals. I pushed through the nervousness and did it and won."

The competition was set to be in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the competition to be canceled.

"I was kind of upset but next year I am going to try again."

Izabella is using it as motivation and is working with her family to get back there again next year.

"I think every parent dreams that their kids could have the same love or passion as they do," her dad said. "Luckily, so far, all of our kids do."

"We get closer because then we help each other accomplish our goals and we know what we all want to achieve," said Izabella.

She hopes to continue basketball to accomplish her biggest goal--

"I want to go to the WNBA some day," Izabella said.

Izabella said this year isn't going to slow her down. She's getting ready for next year's competition.

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