MHS girls hope to play role of sleeper at sectionals

By Wayne Block

February 6, 2012 - 4:41 pm
Senior Paige Ellis will lead Maricopa into the Division II Sectionals. Photo by Pete Herzog.

Seeded No. 8, and facing the No. 1 team, seems to be a daunting task for the Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team in its sectional tournament opener Tuesday night against Tucson Flowing Wells, but head coach Jenn Miller said she hopes her team can sneak up on the taller opponent.

The game is set for 7:30 p.m. at Tucson's Amphitheater High School.

“I don’t know that they will really know what to expect with us,” Miller said. “I’m hoping they look at our record (17-10) and look at the height of our girls and go ‘they’re No. 8 How good can they be?” 

What Maricopa knows about Flowing Wells is the Caballeros are 25-2, ranked No. 3 in all of Division II and feature a 6-2 transfer who, along with two other transfers, has turned around a team that was 11-17 a year ago.

Flowing Wells began the 2011-12 season with a pair of losses at the Gilbert Highland Thanksgiving Tournament, falling to the host team, 54-29 and Surprise Valley Vista, 64-52.

However, a 47-25 victory over Mesa Desert Ridge in the last game of the tournament ignited a 25-game winning streak continuing into the sectionals.

Maricopa and Flowing Wells have three games against common opponents. FWHS defeated Tucson Pueblo twice, 51-28 and 51-43, while the Rams had a 54-25 win over the same squad. MHS defeated Casa Grande Vista Grande twice, 64-33 and 67-26, while the Caballeros beat the Spartans, 56-22.

Flowing Wells is led by 6-2 junior Lyndsay Leikam, who transferred from Phoenix St. Mary’s and averages 14.3 points and 11.6 rebounds. She has made 36 of 91, 3-point attempts. Senior Elizabeth Mata, 5-8, is scoring at a 7.8 rate and 5-9 senior Czarina Walker adds 6.9 points.

Miller said the chance to play in the sectionals came as something of a surprise.

“On Friday night, before the game, it didn’t look good,” she said. “We had dropped to No. 10, and looking at the teams that were going to play, and how the games should have worked out, there was no way. We stayed on line and just kept hitting the refresh button.”

About 10:30 they knew the Rams had made it and sent a text out to the team.

“They were all super excited. Some of them didn’t believe me and they were like, ‘coach, that’s mean, why are you messing with me,’ but I said no, I’m being honest.”

This is the third time in the last four years the Rams have made it to the post-season. In 2009-10, their first season in what is now Division II, MHS lost it’s only game, but the previous year, in Division III, it won one and lost one.

“We know that they are a solid team,” said Miller of Tuesday’s opponent. “We’ve played a couple of common opponents and they beat them kind of like we beat them.”

Her said her hopes are also buoyed by the fact that MHS has played some very tough competition and faced teams with similar height.

“We’ve played teams with taller girls and we have to be smart, we have to play solid defense with our feet. We will probably front her and use weak side help.”

Should MHS win it could face a team in the semi-finals it already has beaten. Tucson Cholla is the No. 5 seed, a team Maricopa topped 45-37.


 

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