The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team gets its first public outing of the season with a scrimmage Wednesday at 5 p.m. on the home court.
Second-year head coach Melvin Mitchell has 11 girls at the varsity level – if he moves up two sophomores from junior varsity.
“I think our strengths continue to be what they’ve always been – getting out in transition, fast breaks, pressure defense,” said Mitchell, who also teaches at Santa Cruz Elementary.
Last season, the Rams were 23-7, losing to rival Seton Catholic in the state quarterfinals. With the reconfigured divisions, Seton Catholic is off MHS’s schedule, having been moved to 4A. Maricopa now plays in 5A Metro with Apollo (11-12 last season), Ironwood (16-12), McClintock (9-15), Kellis (4-19) and Sunnyslope (4-17).
Two seasons ago, Maricopa won the state title in erstwhile Division II.
“I like our schedule,” Mitchell said. “We have a pretty good mix of teams, and we’ll play some [former] Division I teams in tournament play.”
Three of last season’s starters graduated. Returning starters are senior forward Tyra Williams and junior guard Sydni Callis.
Besides Williams, the Rams have not been a tall team, though Mitchell said he will have a couple sophomores with a little altitude to bring in. What Maricopa has been known for is its quickness and aggressiveness.
Challenges for the team? “Rebounding, for sure,” Mitchell said.
Offensively and defensively, he has called it the team’s Achilles’ heel.
Joining Williams and Callis, he expects this season’s starters to be junior Chalisse Bell, sophomore Jayla Johnson and senior Clara Morris, a transfer from Chicago.
Also on varsity are senior Alyssa Lebron, junior Natausha Hall, and sophomores Destinee Chavis and Kassidy Hamlett.
Nov. 16 home 5 p.m. Scrimmage (Apache Junction, Glendale Prep, Coolidge)
Nov. 25-26 Scorpion Shootout at Desert Edge
Nov. 29 away 7 p.m. Visa Grande
Dec. 1 away 7 p.m. Queen Creek
Dec. 2 home 7 p.m. Campo Verde
Dec. 6 home 7 p.m. Poston Butte
Dec. 9 home 7 p.m. Mtn. View (Marana)
Dec. 13 home 7 p.m. Willow Canyon
Dec. 15 away 7 p.m. Casa Grande
Dec. 16 home 7 p.m. Ironwood
Jan. 10 home 7 p.m. Sunnyslope
Jan. 13 home 7 p.m. Kellis
Jan. 17 away 7 p.m. McClintock
Jan. 19 away 7 p.m. Ironwood
Jan. 20 home 7 p.m. Apollo
Jan. 24 away 7 p.m. Sunnyslope
Jan. 27 away 7 p.m. Kellis
Jan. 31 home 7 p.m. McClintock (senior night)
Feb. 2 away 7 p.m. Williams Field
Feb. 7 away 7 p.m. Apollo