The Maricopa Rams had a physical tussle with Douglas before coasting to a 70-37 win in Round 1 of the girls high school basketball state playoffs.
Hosting the Bulldogs in front of a scattered crowd, the Rams had a neck-and-neck battle on their hands through most of the first quarter. Douglas senior Veronica Barraza lived up to billing by almost single-handedly keeping her team close to Maricopa.
Once the Rams’ defense was able to control her, however, Maricopa began to run away with the game.
With a 7-0 run to end the first quarter, the Rams went ahead 21-17.
Both teams struggled to score in the second, but the Bulldogs got the worst of it. The touted Maricopa defense held them to seven points in the frame while the Rams built a 34-24 halftime lead.
Maricopa turned that into a stamped in the third quarter. While junior Raegene Womack had been hot in the first half, senior Ashliegh Haley and junior Danae Ruiz turned it on in the second. All ended up with 14 points.
Avoiding the defensive letdown that coach Kati Burrows said had sunk her team against Seton Catholic a game earlier, the Rams remained relentless.
The defense continued to burgle the Bulldogs while feeding Haley half-court pass after half-court pass. She scored 12 of the team’s 26 third-quarter points. Going into the fourth, the Rams were up 60-32, and Douglas was clearly exhausted.
That gave Maricopa’s non-starters the opportunity for some court time in the fourth, where senior Kelly Paine scored half of the 10 points to finish off the competition.
***ADVERTISEMENT***Next up for the Rams is fifth-seeded Tucson High Magnet School. The Badgers had a first-round bye after a 23-5 season, during which junior Alexis Cortez averaged 25 points per game. A big rebounding team (31 per game), Tucson is also a high scorer on average.
The game is Friday at 7 p.m. at Tucson High Magnet School, 400 N. Second Ave. The winner moves on to the quarterfinals in the Gila River Arena in Glendale.
On the same side of the bracket, the 13th-ranked Casa Grande girls defeated Notre Dame Prep and will play No. 4 Flagstaff on Friday.