Senior Raegene Womack tries to get through Seton Catholic in the state quarterfinal game. Photo by William Lange

There will be no state repeat as defending champion Maricopa High School girls’ basketball lost 57-40 against the tournament’s No. 1 seed Seton Catholic High School Tuesday night.

The Rams beat the Sentinels to claim last year’s state title, but Seton Catholic showed tremendous skill and resiliency in this year’s tournament.

The Rams finished with a 23-7 record overall and ranked eighth in Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Division II Girls’ Basketball Power Rankings.

“It was great to coach this group of girls and to be affiliated with Maricopa basketball for the last two years,” head coach Melvin Mitchell said. “I believe we had a great overall season with the tough competition that we played. Obviously, we would’ve hoped to have a win tonight, but it just didn’t go our way.”

Maricopa struggled to make shots in the first half and fell into an early 22-point deficit by halftime.

The Rams rallied in the second half to pull within 12 before the fourth quarter, but the Sentinels simply had too many weapons and held on for the victory.

Junior Tyra Williams. Photo by William Lange
Junior Tyra Williams. Photo by William Lange

“Seton, they do a great job of adjusting,” Mitchell said. “In all honesty, I think they’re just one of the best halftime adjusting teams that I’ve seen or that I’ve coached against. So they made a great job of adjusting to what we were doing on offense and made a couple stops.”

Maricopa will lose seven players, including three starters, to graduation in May. The class of 2016 will leave Maricopa as one of the most successful groups of girls in the school’s basketball history.

“It was really emotional, and the girls wanted to win,” Mitchell said. “You just let them know they had a great season, which they did, and talk to each and every individual girl and let them know how much you love and appreciate them.”

Seton Catholic will take on Mesa High School in the AIA State Semi-finals Saturday Night at Gila River Arena in Glendale.

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