The last time the Maricopa Rams girls basketball team played Seton Catholic, coach Kati Burrows demanded of her girls in the fourth quarter, “How much do you want this?”
That game ended in a stinging loss. Monday, they have the opportunity to deliver a better answer in the most important game they’ve ever played.
The Rams play for a state championship Monday, and they could have a large cheering contingent in tow as they head to Glendale to take on Seton Catholic.
According to Superintendent Steve Chestnut, there will be up to three “rooter” buses available along with the team bus and the cheer/band bus. The number of these spirit buses, reserved for MHS students, depends on how many turn in permission slips Monday morning.
This is the first time the Rams have reached the state final. This season was also the first time they reached the semifinals, or the quarterfinals. Their record is 28-5.
Two of Maricopa’s five losses this year have come at the hands of the Sentinels. The Rams first faced Seton Catholic Dec. 11 and lost by six points, 64-58. They took them on again Feb. 14 in the sectional tournament final. The Rams led throughout the game until the Sentinels passed them in the fourth quarter to win 55-45.
Burrows said her girls stopped playing their brand of basketball in the fourth. That kind of late-game letdown has not happened since. In fact, when they are not called the Cinderella team, they are being called the comeback kids.
Seton, sporting three players over 6-foot-1, has a height advantage over Maricopa. Starting forward LeeAnn Wirth, who is a 6-foot-3 sophomore, averages more than seven rebounds and two blocks a game. The player to watch among the Sentinels is 5-foot-9 freshman Sarah Barcello, who averages 15.5 points a game and 6.5 rebounds.
Seton Catholic was a favorite in the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division II bracket from the start of the season. They were ranked No. 2, behind only Cienega, which was upset in the playoffs.
The Rams as a team have a higher scoring average (59 points per game) than Seton (53). Despite a record comparable to the top teams during the regular season, Maricopa was undervalued when it came time to seed the bracket. That gave them the opportunity to pull off three upsets in a row.
MHS Principal June Celaya is sending out information tonight and early tomorrow morning for signing up to ride the spirit buses to the game. A link to the field trip form is on the MHS website.
The first 50 students will receive free tickets to the game. The entry fee is $6. The signed permission slips and medical forms must be turned in before 11 a.m.
The buses leave at 11:45 a.m. for the 2 p.m. game at Gila River Arena. Buses will return by 5:30 p.m.
Celaya is reminding students they also need student ID and “most importantly,” be dressed in Ram colors, black and red.
***ADVERTISEMENT***Maricopa Girls Varsity Basketball Team
10 Raegene Womack
11 Maria Montes
12 Ashleigh Haley
21 Syndi Callis
22 Danae Ruiz
23 Tiara Edmond
24 Allyssa Haley
30 Tyra Williams
32 Kelly Paine
33 Jaleesa Rodriguez
34 Kelsee Keys
42 Ashia Lasller-Nelson
44 Jamila Rogers