It’s a banner year – the kind of banner that will hang in the Maricopa High School gym to set the bar for future generations.
The girls basketball team defeated the Seton Catholic Sentinels 52-49 Monday. The Rams took the lead with 6:35 left in the first quarter and never relinquished it on their way to Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Division II title.
It was the first state championship for the program.
“This is history; this is something that has never been done,” senior Ashliegh Haley said.
It was also the first time in three tries Maricopa got past the highly touted Sentinels. The game came down to the wire, and Rams coach Kati Burrows said her team’s fitness played a big role.
“Tonight when it came down to it, they knew this would be the end of their season and they definitely pushed through their tiredness,” Burrows said. “A few people were a little bit sore, but they pushed through.”
Seven unanswered points in the first quarter created the essential separation, and Seton was only able to inch its way back toward the Rams over the rest of the game.
Maricopa’s 17-10 lead after one quarter was down to five points at the half, 33-28, and four points after three, 43-39. Senior Jamila Rogers scored the first two buckets of the fourth quarter, but the Sentinels came back to crawl within two points with 35 seconds left. The only score the rest of the game, however, was a free throw from MHS freshman Sydni Callis.
“It was a lot closer than I would have liked, but they dug in and they finished it,” Burrows said.
Junior Raegene Womack led Maricopa with 17 points while her team shot 44 percent from the field against Seton’s 33 percent.
“We learned that we had to stick together,” Womack said. “There was no other choice. We needed to beat Seton because we lost to them twice. We wanted this ring and that’s what we had to do. We made history.”
Seton Catholic’s LeeAnne Wirth also scored 17 and had 12 rebounds.
“We worked hard in every game and in every practice, and we just wanted it,” said Rams senior Tiara Edmond, who scored 11 points. “It means so much to me. It means all my hard work in practice finally paid off.”
Senior Jamila Rogers had six rebounds to go with her 10 points. Junior Danae Ruiz led the game with four assists.
It was the assists and steals, part of the Maricopa game plan from Day One, which kept the Sentinels at bay during crunch time.
***ADVERTISEMENT***“My girls bought into what we were trying to teach them from the beginning – playing together, playing the Maricopa way, doing all the dirty work, getting rebounds and pushing the ball out in transition,” Burrows said. “They’re a good group of girls and they’ve represented our community and our school.”
The girls brought home the basketball trophy along with a net from the game.
“It’s going to be an amazing memory,” Haley said. “My high school years ending like this, you can’t even describe it.”