LAS VEGAS, NV – There was a friendly encounter at The House last Friday night.
It was when the Chicago Sky played the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces at The House, better known as the Mandalay Bay Events Center on the southern end of the famed Las Vegas Strip.
In this game, former high school teammates Diamond DeShields and Dearica Hamby were competitors. DeShields, in her second season, is the Sky’s leading scorer at 14.9 ppg (through Monday’s games), while Hamby is currently in her fifth year with the club (she spent her first three with the squad in their former San Antonio home). Hamby was inserted into the starting lineup due to WNBA All-Star A’ja Wilson’s ankle injury.
When the two teams met, they were among the league’s top scoring teams, with both averaging above 80. Las Vegas was third in the standings, and the Sky was fifth. But in this contest, the Sky was the limit. Chicago rolled to an 8-0 lead out of the gate. While the Sky could not counter Liz Cambage inside and Hamby led in rebounds with 11, Chicago managed to hold off the Aces’ comeback and emerge with an 87-84 win.
DeShields, Stefanie Dolson, and Courtney Vandersloot each had 16 points for Chicago, while Cambage led the Aces with 28. Most of that came on offensive rebounds. Sugar Rodgers came off the bench and drained 14 points off four three-pointers. They came during a second quarter stretch where Las Vegas eliminated the early deficit.
“I thought Sugar did what she was supposed to do,” said Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer. “That is make shots. I thought she played hard on defense. Tonight, her shots went in. She plays with energy, and then she gets tired. I thought the spurts where I played her were appropriate.”
At the end, the Aces had the ball and a chance to tie, but a three-pointer at the buzzer missed the hoop. “They’re a really good team over there,” said Vandersloot. “Basketball is a game of runs. We knew we had to weather the storm. Things weren’t going our way in the third quarter, but down the stretch we made enough big plays to win the game.”
DeShields and Hamby both attended Norcross High School under legendary coach Angie Hembree. They still talk to each other during the season. “She’s family,” said DeShields of Hamby. “We always show love when we see other.”
After winning three state titles and averaging 26 points in her final season, DeShields went first to North Carolina before transferring to Tennessee. This move was not a surprise. Her mother, Tisha, attended Tennessee and was an All-American in the heptathlon. Her family is awash in athletic genes. Her father was former major leaguer Delino DeShields, and her brother, Delino Jr., was recently brought up to the Texas Rangers. After graduating, she was the third overall pick for the Sky last season and averaged 14.4 points a game.
This year, her average has gone up about a half-point a game, while she was named an All-Star (the game was also played in Vegas), and won the Skills Competition.
DeShields keeps tabs on the other Blue Devils that are making a mark in the other professional leagues. “We just breed pros,” she remarked when asked about this.
Hembree attended a recent Sky game, and DeShields still seeks out her former coach’s counsel. “She’s always there for me for life advice. I knew she will always have my best interests at heart.”
After the game, Sky coach James Wade received some bad news. Starting forward Jantel Lavender will undergo surgery tomorrow for a left foot fracture suffered in the third quarter. She is expected to miss nine weeks.

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