Marlins and Seals were spotted at Copper Sky Aquatics Center on Saturday during a fun meet that let the swimmers have a splash and get ready for competition mode. Boys and girls competed in the lap pool.
As the track & field regular season closes, Maricopa High School senior Jacob Cowing has the fastest time recorded this season for the 200-meter dash in Division II.
He won the event in 21.63 (a school record) Friday at the Southeast Valley Championship in Queen Creek. He also won the 100-meter dash at that meet in a school-record 10.71. That is the second-fastest time reported in the division.
Cowing was also a member of the 4×400-meter relay that finished second in 3:31.45. The relay team includes Spencer Gay, Logan Taylor and Amonte Williams.
Taylor, too, has continued to be a standout with remarkable consistency in his specialty events, the hurdles. His time of 14.51 in the 110-meter hurdles set March 8 in the Becky Matthews Open remains the second-fastest time in the division this year. It was also a school record. Friday, he finished third at Queen Creek in 14.73.
In the 300-meter hurdles, Taylor set another school record April 12 at the Hohokam Invitational, where he placed third in 39.09. He matched that time Friday while finishing second, and it is the second-fastest time recorded this season in Division II.
But there’s more. Taylor added the high jump late in the season. He leaped 6-2 at the Hohokam to finish fourth. That jump is among the top 10 in the division. He finished second on Friday with a jump of 6-0. After mulling college offers, Taylor said he has chosen to attend Brigham Young University to participate in both football and track.
Fellow senior Tylen Riley-Coleman hit a personal best in the shot put April 6 at the Greenway Invitational, where he put the shot 52-9 to win that event and improve on the school record. That is a top-10 distance this season in the division. Friday, he finished second with a throw of 52-2.
Coleman achieved a personal best in the discus at the beginning of the season, throwing 150-9.75 at the Aztec Invite March 2. That is seventh-best in the division all year and a school record. Friday, he finished third with a throw of 146-7. He also took a school record in the javelin back on March 2 with 158-11.
The Maricopa boys’ team finished fifth in the Southeast Valley Championship, the final tune-up for the state championships, which start May 1.
Other Rams with top-10 finishes in Queen Creek were senior Amonte Williams, who was third in the 400-meter run with a personal record 51.17; senior Alec Kramarczyk, who set a personal record in the 1600 meters by finishing ninth in 4:42.78; and junior Steel Lewis, who was ninth in the pole vault at 11-07 (personal record).
Maricopa’s 4×200-meter relay team has the sixth-fastest time this season in Division II after running 1:36.80 in the Hohokam. That team is comprised of Mister Chavis, Roberto Esqueda, Marcus Brown and Abel Rodriquez.
Also Friday at Queen Creek, the Maricopa girls’ team finished eighth in the Southeast Valley Championship. Junior Zanaa Ramirez won the 800-meter run in 2:29.63, a personal record. She was ninth in the 400 meters.
The 4×400 team of Kayla Boich, Shakira Gillespie, Ebony Griffin and Zanaa Ramirez was second in a division top-10 time of 4:12.48. The 4×100 relay team of Destinee Chavis, Boich, Griffin and Gillespie was fifth.
Boich finished second in the high jump at 4-10. Freshman Lauren Grist was sixth with 4-04. Gillespie, a sophomore, was fifth in the long jump with a personal-best 16-04. Junior Rylin Balgaard was eighth in the triple jump at 32-04.
The state meet will be May 1 and May 4 at Mesa Community College. Competition for Division II starts Wednesday at 11 a.m. with field events in the morning and running events in the afternoon. Saturday, all divisions will compete in their respective finals starting at 10:45 a.m.
With two games remaining in the regular season, the Maricopa High School softball team has split their most recent eight games to put their overall record at 10-9.
That keeps them in a position to make the 5A play-in tournament. The Rams are currently ranked 24th in the conference. To end the season, they play 12th-ranked Gilbert Tuesday (Senior Night) and again Thursday. The outcome of those two games could alter the rankings. The top 25 teams advance to state competition.
Maricopa pulled out an 8-7 victory over Agua Fria March 27 before splitting games against Williams Field. The Rams also split a pair of games against Higley, winning the April 5 contest in dramatic style 11-9 with a three-run sixth inning.
The Rams also defeated Sierra Linda 22-5 in between losses to Casteel.
This season, senior Chantel Holguin leads the Maricopa batting with a .556 average. Her 28 runs scored, 35 hits, and 13 doubles are also team bests. Posting similar numbers is sophomore Karyn Meier, who is batting .493 and leads the team in runs batted in with 21 and tied Holguin’s doubles total at 13.
Freshman Rori Gosiak is batting .476 and has 12 stolen bases, while junior Kayla Occhiline is batting .462. Sophomore Evone Santiago leads the team in triples with three and is batting .452.
Santiago is 7-6 pitching with an earned run average of 3.27. She has pitched 81.1 innings, striking out 63 while walking 23.
Freshman Adrianna Armstrong is 3-3 on the mound with an ERA of 4.26.
Danae Ruiz was nonplussed when a teammate’s mother spread the word Ruiz had been named to a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) 2019 Division II Women’s Basketball All-America team.
“I wasn’t prepared for that,” said Ruiz, a junior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott.
A 2016 graduate of Maricopa High School, she was a founding member of the ERAU women’s team. Now she is the first athlete from the women’s or men’s basketball teams to gain the NAIA nationwide honor. A guard, she was named to the NAIA Third Team.
An annual leading scorer for the Eagles since her freshman year, Ruiz had a drama-filled season. She came out of the chute cold and couldn’t quite get her game together. Then she lost her starting spot.
“It was a rough, bumpy road,” she said.
Teams put more pressure on Ruiz than ever before, even staying in her face beyond the arc. New head coach Michael Trujillo decided she would fare better coming off the bench. She had to learn to take that in stride and just think about the playing minutes and not the starts.
“Mentally, I had to grow. Physically, I had to grow,” she said. “And I had to find a creative way of doing things.”
Despite starting only five of the 28 games this season, Ruiz led the Eagles scoring with 12.4 points per game, a total of 348. She let opponents come at her, resulting in 107 points from the free-throw line.
It was her trademark way of getting back up and fighting, something she has been doing since at least freshman year of high school. Before the family returned to Maricopa, she had a basketball coach telling her she would never play college ball or even be an impact player on high school varsity.
“I like to prove people wrong for some reason,” Ruiz said. “When we came back to Maricopa, I had a coach who believed in me and helped me develop my shot.”
By her junior year at MHS, Kati Burrows was the coach for a single season and guided Ruiz and the Rams to the state title. She also instilled a high-level work ethic that continued the next season under coach Melvin Mitchell and helped prepare Ruiz for the style of ball she would play at ERAU.
She also credits her parents for “always encouraging me to keep going” in very different ways. Anna is the softie while Gabe pushes her to toughen up.
This year Ruiz was again named All-California Pacific Conference First Team. For the first time, she was named Cal Pac Player of the Year. During the season, she scored her 1,000th college point. She is also on the ERAU Honor Roll as a forensic psychology major.
Her college preparations had her enrolled in a variety of advanced-placement classes at MHS. At ERAU, she found the coursework a little easier than expected and found a way to balance classes and the travel demands of women’s basketball. She was even on track to graduate early but took on two minors to extend her time.
The Eagles have become a sisterhood, Ruiz said, and she has been pushed into a leadership role, making sure the other women on the team are organized and on the same page. Those were not skills she had expected to acquire but are now part of her toolbox.
While she has been on the path to a career in forensic psychology since day one at ERAU, she is also looking for post-college basketball opportunities overseas.
Maricopa High School’s varsity baseball team is staying around .500 after a dramatic home win Monday was followed by a Tuesday tournament loss. Hosting Independence Monday, the Rams led most of the game, but had to break a tie in the bottom of the seventh for the 4-3 win.
Maricopa had 10 hits in the game, including doubles from senior Trey Keel and sophomore Jacob Keel. In six innings of work, senior Jose Leyva gave up just one earned run while striking out eight and walking four. He and senior Devin Fiala each had two hits in the game.
Tuesday, the Rams fell to 6A’s Red Mountain (6-3) in five innings, 20-4, during the Bob Everett Classic. That put Maricopa’s overall record at 5-5.
Through 10 games, junior Austin Rapp is batting .438, and sophomore Johnathan Leyva has a batting average of .310. Senior Nico Bandin leads the team with 12 hits, and Johnathan Leyva and Fiala each have nine.
Jose Leyva has the most time on the mound, with 16 innings pitched and leads the team in strikeouts with 20. Trey Keel has pitched 14 innings and has 17 strikeouts.
Maricopa High School athletes made a mark in Arizona Interscholastic Association winter sports.
Senior Jayla Johnson was named First Team in 5A San Tan girls’ basketball. Her average of 12.7 points per game was third in the region. She totaled 279 points. Given honorable mention were seniors Italy Brookshire and Jene Brown, junior Tayler Coleman and sophomore Shakira Gillespie. The Rams reached the 5A quarterfinals.
Four Maricopa wrestlers qualified for the state’s Division 2 tournament, and senior Jonathan Childers came away with a fifth-place medal.
Childers, wrestling in the 126-pound group, won his first match but lost his second to eventually champion Bobby Tellez of Cienega to land in the opposite bracket. There, he had two victories before losing to Mountain View Marana’s Seth Legros, who went on to take third place. Childers defeated Omar Artaega of Centennial to take fifth.
Also performing at state and wrestling three matches each were freshman Gabriel Garcia and seniors Connor Paine and David Onquit.
In girls’ soccer, Bianca Olivares was named to the region’s First Team. She had 16 goals through 17 games. Saneya Cowing made Second Team. Receiving honorable mention were Mackenzie Ford, McKinley Hacker and Madison Tyler. The team reached the state playoff bracket.
In boys’ soccer, Jaime Hernandez was named to San Tan’s All-Region First Team. He had four goals and eight points. Dakotah Barchus and Kevin Vasquez made Second Team. Honorable mentions went to Mario Gastelum, Christobal Mendez, Asa Miller, Asher Miller and Taylor Russo.
For the boys’ basketball team, which posted a losing record, senior Walter Greer stood and was named Second Team in 5A San Tan voting.
The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team wrapped up their extended season in the quarterfinals of the 5A state championship bracket Thursday.
Facing Arizona’s top team, the Millennium Tigers, the Rams fell 71-35. It capped a 21-9 year for Maricopa.
“They fought the entire time. In following them throughout our season, that’s one thing that hasn’t stayed consistent,” first-year head coach RaShawn Calvert said. “In going into games, we start bad and then pick it up. Tonight, I can definitely say they fought from start to finish.”
With four players over six feet tall, the formerly 6A Millennium was physically daunting and aggressive, leaving Maricopa with awkward match-ups. The Tigers ran to a 24-8 lead in the first quarter. Though Maricopa stuck with them in the second to trail 40-21 at the half, Millennium went on a 22-6 tear in the third.
Calvert said she was proud of her team’s accomplishments, saying no one picked them to end up in the quarterfinals. The Rams also saw what they need to do to get to the next level.
“It’s working on everything. It’s getting mentally prepared, physically prepared,” Calvert said. “We saw the best. We saw No. 1 [Millennium]. No. 2 [Gilbert] was in our region. We know what we’ve got to prepare for. We know our weaknesses. We know moving forward what we’ve got to work on.”
Maricopa is losing six seniors, including last season’s Region Player of the Year Jayla Johnson. However, a contingent of juniors and sophomores also saw plenty of playing time this season and stepped up as leaders when necessary.
In Monday’s semifinals at the Wells Fargo Arena, Millennium will face No. 12 Casteel while Gilbert takes on No. 3 Horizon.
Two big quarters in the middle of the game lifted the Maricopa Rams out of the 5A round of 16 Tuesday and into the state quarterfinals.
The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team defeated Marana on the road, 58-48. That was despite a slow start and Marana’s attempt at a comeback in the fourth quarter. The Tigers were seeded eighth, just ahead of the Rams’ ninth-place ranking, but were without their standout, Anabella Muscoreil, who was injured a week ago.
Neither team could get an offense firing in the first quarter. Maricopa had only a 6-5 lead at the end. Then the Rams went on an intense offensive run while the defense stayed tight and left the Tigers little room to maneuver. Maricopa outscored Marana 20-8 in the third and 22-16 in the fourth to move ahead, 48-29.
The Rams held off a 19-10 surge by the Tigers for the victory.
Jayla Johnson led all scorers with 28 points. Jene Brown had 12 points, followed by Tayler Riley-Coleman with six, Brooke Smith with five, Destinee Chavis with three and Italy Brookshire and Shakira Gillespie with two apiece.
That sets up Maricopa (21-7) to face the powerhouse Millennium team (23-4) that is the top seed in the conference. They have not played each other this season. The quarterfinal game is Thursday at 7 p.m. at Millennium High School in Goodyear.
High school girls’ basketball teams have extended their seasons as the Sequoia Pathway varsity upset No. 4 Jefferson Prep in the Canyon Athletic Association quarterfinals.
The Pumas won 47-39 Monday night to advance to the semis of Division 2. Aleina Estrada scored 24 points for Pathway, bringing her season total to 371.
Kymani Bledsoe put up 12 points, and Jasmin Nafarrate scored seven and had 5 offensive rebounds. Alicia Lewis scored three, and Destiny Rosales had two.
The Pumas, seeded fifth, next play Saturday against top seed Desert Heights at Valley Lutheran High School at 6:15 p.m.
In the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team plays tonight at Marana High School in the 5A round of 16. The Rams are seeded ninth. Marana is eighth. Game time is 7 p.m.
Other Maricopa teams that qualified for the playoffs bowed out early. The Pathway boys’ basketball team lost to top-ranked Eduprize-Gilbert, 102-28, in the CAA round of 16 on Friday. In AIA play, the MHS girls’ soccer team lost to Casteel in the first round 4-0 Saturday.
Living up to their billing, the Sequoia Pathway girls’ basketball team won their play-in game easily Thursday in Canyon Athletic Association competition. The Pumas, ranked fifth in Division II, defeated South Ridge, 56-23, at home. That puts them in the quarterfinals to play No. 4 Jefferson Prep on Monday at Powerhouse Hoops in Phoenix. Game time is 5:30 p.m.
Andrew Polidore and his 12U AAA Arizona Bobcats team have been invited to play hockey in Canada.
The team is traveling to compete in the Tourno International de Hockey Pee Wee Quebec tournament Feb. 12-24 against teams from all over the planet.
Polidore, a 12-year-old eighth-grade honor student who attends Almentia Academy and Desert Wind Middle School in Maricopa, has been playing youth hockey in the United Arab Emirates since he was 7.
He is the son of Benita and Anton Polidore of Maricopa.
“We play a lot of games in Chandler and in Scottsdale,” Andrew Polidore said. “It is a hassle getting out the door in the morning. I have to make sure I have all my stuff.”
He recently participated in a “shoot-out” at Norte Dame College. It is an event for scouts to see young players perform.
The Bobcats practice at The Ice Den in Chandler, playing after school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and weekends.
“I played hockey four years overseas in the UAE,” he said. “It was good competition, but I needed some better competition, so we came back here. I spent a year on the House Team, and my second season, I went to the Bobcats.”
Players on the team mainly live in Chandler and Scottsdale.
“They come from all around Arizona. We have 18 on the team,” he said.
Talented teams are chosen from across the United States, China, Australia and “many more countries beyond there. It’s a very good tournament with high-level teams,” he said.
Andrew said he plans to stay in hockey through high school and college, with a goal of gaining a college hockey scholarship. He dreams of playing in the National Hockey League.
“We haven’t figured out what we’re going to do for high school yet, but next season I’m going to try out for the Coyotes. It’s high-level tournaments,” he said.
Hockey can be a rough-and-tumble sport. Andrew said at 12 it is rough but not as hard as it will become when he moves up.
“In Bantam you get to hit and rough around. In Pee Wee you don’t get to hit – it’s a penalty if you hit. It’s going to be harder in Bantam, but I think I’m prepared for it,” Andrew said.
One advantage he has over his competitors is speed.
“I’m very fast. I play right wing on the second line,” he said.
This is his first year playing with the 12U AAA Arizona Bobcats.
USA Hockey has issued a travel permit to the team, making them eligible to participate in the Canadian tournament.
It is an invitation only tournament with a selection of some of the best Pee Wee hockey players in the world.
“I want to win in Canada and I want to meet people on good, higher-level teams,” he said. “I want to see where I and my team place against those teams. I want to see if we have anything to improve on when I go to Bantam. I think Quebec is one of my steps to the NHL.”
His father Anton said Andrew is always improving and growing as a hockey player.
“To get him to the highest level, we need to work together as a family and make sure everyone is doing their deeds,” he said.
His mother Benita said Andrew is very passionate about hockey. “It is an investment in his future. He wants to play college,” she said.
Both parents always attend his games and practices.
“I have a life outside of hockey and I want to do a lot of other things. I want to go into a field of science – forensic science. I also want to do engineering,” he said.
Andrew said he looks up to his parents as his heroes in life.
“They have helped me through every step to get to hockey,” he said. “My parents were always supportive during those times. It’s my parents I always look up to even though they don’t play hockey.”
On a night the Maricopa High School girls basketball team suffered a rare loss, the Rams honored two of their own for reaching the 1,000-point scoring mark for their careers this season.
Tuesday, the girls took on conference foe Casteel. Despite a strong start, field goals became elusive, and the Rams lost 43-28. It moved their overall record to 16-4. It was their second loss in the 5A San Tan section. It was also an upset win for the Colts, who were ranked 16th in 5A compared to Maricopa’s seventh.
Before the game, the Rams took a moment to present awards to seniors Jayla Johnson and Jene Brown. They both scored their 1,000th career points early in the season. Jayla, who has played all her high school career at MHS, reached her mark Dec. 6 in a win over Notre Dame Prep, 63-51. Jene, a transfer this year from New York, scored her 1,000th point Nov. 27 in a win over Apollo, 60-49.
In Tuesday’s game, Jayla led the Maricopa scoring with 10 points. She also had five steals and four rebounds. Jene had 19 rebounds, five points, three blocks and two assists. Senior Italy Brookshire scored seven points and had 10 rebounds.
A diverse collection of sports stories in Maricopa were interesting for different reasons in 2018. Some were about the new and shiny, others about overcoming challenges while the top story was flat-out victory.
5. New coaches and athletic directors were hired this year at Maricopa High School and Sequoia Pathway Academy. At MHS, Brandon Harris became the varsity football head coach while RaShawn Calvert was hired as girls’ basketball head coach and Laura Logan launched the swim team. Former boys’ basketball coach Jake Neill returned as AD. At Sequoia Pathway, Glen Hale took over the football and boys’ basketball teams and was named AD.
4. Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, one of the top-rated golf courses in the state, was inundated with floodwaters from Vekol Wash in October, causing the course to close for nearly a month. General Manager Brady Wilson and his staff soldiered on, keeping the pro shop and restaurant open while water was pumped off the fairways.
3. In Arizona Interscholastic Association competition, MHS football earned a spot in the playoffs out of arguably the toughest section in the state. Sequoia Pathway’s varsity football team finished second in the Canyon Athletic Association’s open division, and the Puma volleyball team reached the final four with two players named all-state.
2. Even readers who don’t usually follow high school sports took interest in this year’s Homecoming game at MHS after a fracas between head coaches capped off the Rams’ 55-0 win. Central suspended its coach long-term, Maricopa’s Harris sat out a game, and both teams were given warnings by AIA.
The Maricopa High School girls’ soccer team improved its record to 3-2 with a blowout home victory over Sunnyside, 10-0, Monday. Junior Senaya Cowing scored four goals, bringing her season total to nine. Junior Payson Hacker scored two goals. Also scoring were senior Bianca Olivares, sophomore Jezelle Magallanes and freshmen McKinley Hacker and Lexy Rowe. Tending goal, senior Mackenzie Ford had three saves. The Rams travel to Agua Fria (2-0) tonight for a 6 p.m. game.
The MHS boys were shut out by Sunnyside, 5-0, and saw their record fall to 1-4. Of the six goals scored by Maricopa this season, five were off the foot of freshman Kevin Vasquez. The boys host Agua Fria (1-0-3) tonight at 6 p.m.
A new disc golf course is coming to the Copper Sky Recreation Complex.
It is expected to open by Jan. 26, in time to host the Maricopa Open, which starts that day. The course is complete except for four of the holes, according to Mike Riggs, deputy director of Community Services.
“The nets are in and most of the tee pads are poured,” Riggs said. “There is a need. It is a popular sport. We had a partnership with Ace Hardware to help cost-share on the project.”
The idea of a new 18-hole course began a year ago. With Maricopa Ace Hardware helping the city on the project, cost to Maricopa taxpayers is under $10,000. Mike Richey, owner of Maricopa Ace Hardware, told InMaricopa that he paid $5,000 to Eric McCabe, 2010 Pro Disc Golf world champion, for planning and design of the course, and the city purchased the hardware.
Riggs said this project is very inexpensive, “especially for the amount of response it’s getting.”
The new course is especially designed to host larger tournaments as its “Blue Course” is 7,190 feet long and circles the distance of the sprawling 98-acre park.
“It is a growing sport, so there are a tremendous amount of people in town who play disc golf all of the time,” Riggs said. “Another angle was to go to the tournament level to bring people in.”
The 18 holes are separated by varying distances to challenge beginners and expert level players. The course covers grassy and granite areas and has water obstacles.
“I believe they are trying to hold a tournament on Jan. 26 and 27. The balance of the tee boxes will be in before that time,” Riggs said.
“We are excited to offer this to the inventory of things we offer our community,” said Community Services Director Nathan Ullyot. “That’s what it comes down to. It is both a passive and a direct programming opportunity.”
This is a corrected version of a story that published Dec. 10. The designer of the course is Eric McCabe. We regret the error.
Maricopa High School’s new girls’ basketball coach will surprise you.
Rashawn Calvert has taken over the reins of the Maricopa team this year, but this first-year high school coach sports a master’s degree and even some head coaching experience at the college level.
Calvert, 24, is a physical education teacher at Maricopa High.
“I just moved here from McPherson, Kansas, where I was a grad assistant coach at McPherson College,” she said.
Calvert is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan. She played four years of basketball at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She transferred to NAIA Division II McPherson College while she obtained a master’s in health science from Fort Hays College.
“I am new, but I think I’m ready,” she said. “As a graduate assistant, I gained a lot more experience than you would expect.”
During her time at McPherson College, Calvert assumed the role of head JV basketball coach and first assistant for their varsity program.
“I had some experience actually coaching as the head varsity coach at the end. I was thrown in to do recruiting and coaching,” Calvert said. “A lot of grad assistants are paperwork and maybe a scouting report. You might help pass a ball now and then. I give a lot of thanks because I have a lot of experience – more than most people at my age.”
She admitted she is a little nervous to lead the team this year but she remains excited by the opportunity at the same time.
“If I didn’t think I was ready, I wouldn’t have applied for it,” she said.
Calvert said she is blessed with six seniors this season, including three returning starters and another senior with playing experience last year. As far as height on the team, Calvert added, “Yes, I have a couple trees this year. It’s exciting to see that we will have some post presence this year.”
As a PE teacher, Calvert said, “I have a lot of athletes that I am using to play basketball. They are hard workers and we get after it.”
The Maricopa team has been in practice three weeks and opens the 2018-19 season with the Scorpion Shootout, a Thanksgiving tournament on Friday against O’Conner at Desert Edge High School at 10:30 a.m.
“We scrimmaged last Thursday, and it went pretty well,” Calvert said.
A total of 14 players are on this year’s Maricopa High team. Last season Maricopa finished at 18-10.
10 Italy Brookshire, Sr.
11 Brooke Smith, Soph.
12 Jayla Johnson, Sr.
13 Divere Brown, Sr.
20 Jene Brown, Sr.
21 Shakira Gillespie, Soph.
22 Tayler Coleman, Jr.
23 Katherine Gores, Fr.
24 Destinee Chavis, Sr.
30 Jade Placer, Sr.
31 Andrea Harker, Jr.
32 Edrianna Harry, Jr.
44 Yasmeen Hanania, Jr.
45 Evone Santiago, Soph.
Nov. 23-24 Scorpion Shootout, Desert Edge HS
Nov. 27 vs. Apollo, 7 p.m.
Nov. 29 @Camelback, 7 p.m.
Nov. 30 vs. North Canyon, 7 p.m.
Dec. 4 vs. Sierra Linda, 7 p.m.
Dec. 6 @Notre Dame prep, 7 p.m.
Dec. 7 @Carl Hayden, 7 p.m.
Dec. 11 vs. Marana, 7 p.m.
Dec. 13 @Independence, 7 p.m.
Dec. 18 @Campo Verde, 7 p.m.
Dec. 27-29 Chandler Prep New Year’s Classic
Jan. 8 @Williams Field, 7 p.m.
Jan. 11 @Higley 7 p.m.
Jan. 15 vs. Casteel, 7 p.m.
Jan. 18 vs. Gilbert, 7 p.m.
Jan. 22 vs. Campo Verde, 7 p.m.
Jan. 25 vs. Williams Field, 7 p.m.
Jan. 29 vs. Higley, 7 p.m. (Senior Night)
Feb. 1 @Casteel, 7 p.m.
Feb. 5 @Gilbert, 7 p.m.
Despite having several swimmers gone on fall break, the Maricopa High School swim team hosted Poston Butte for its final dual meet Thursday and finished second.
Two of the boys and one of the girls took first place in their respective races at Copper Sky Aquatic Center. The Rams’ final scheduled competition is Oct. 18 at McClintock. The team will know if it has state qualifiers by Halloween.
“Coach Megan and I are tremendously proud of our swimmers,” head coach Laura Logan said. “They have worked hard, learned a lot and improved immensely.”
In the boys’ competition, Poston Butte scored 110 points while MHS scored 58.
Freshman Connor Schrader took first in the 200-meter freestyle in 1:59.01, the 33rd-best time in Division II, and in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:02.1. Nolan Ford was first in the 100-meter freestyle in 57.5.
Ford was second in the 100-meter backstroke and was part of the second-place 200-meter medley relay with Joseph Lambert, Connor Schrader and Kian Carroll.
Rams finishing third were Rafe Scoresby in the 200-meter individual medley, Chase Woodhouse in the 500-meter freestyle, Joseph Lambert in the 100-meter breaststroke, the 200-meter freestyle relay team of Ford, Woodhouse, Carroll and Schrader, and the 400-meter free relay team of Scoreseby, Egan Packard, Victor Moreno and Woodhouse.
In the girls’ competition, Poston Butte scored 96 points to the Rams’ 54 points.
Olivia Byers won two races – the 50 free in 27.2 and the 100 free in 1:03.1.
Rams finishing second were Emily Hollingsworth in the 200 free, Eva Zavala in the 100 breast, and the 200 medley relay team of Paige Hennigar, Zavala, Byers and Mandy Carroll.
Third place went to Zavala in the 50 free, Malia Kealhoa in the 200 free, Katelynn James in the 100 fly, the 200 medley relay team of Emma Carr, Hollingsworth, James and Kaitlyn Crean, and the 400 free relay team of Crean, Hennigar, James and Emily Fauth.
The boys’ and girls’ Rams teams have won one meet this year, a home swim against Combs Sept. 27. The boys won 88-78 and the girls 82-79.
A youth tackle football program is recruiting players age 6-9 for a fall season.
IF YOU GO
What: Militia Speed & Conditioning Clinic
When: June 30, 8-10 a.m.
Where: Copper Sky
How much: Free
The Maricopa Militia is part of the nonprofit National Youth Sports football league. Team manager Joanne Taylor said the team was formed after the disappointment of false starts by other teams that have come and gone.
“Some of our players and coaches have been playing tackle football here in Maricopa for the past four to five years and have had to endure many empty promises, failed leadership, belittlement and discrimination,” Taylor said.
The Militia was conceived as a way to change all that.
The Militia’s home games are played on the Maricopa High School field. Head coach for 7-under and 8-under teams is Josh Taylor, assisted by Dave Taylor, Jay Owens, Ruben Adame and Louie Placencio. If the 9-under team comes to be, another coach will be added. Matt Rivett handles the finances, and team mom is Tara Owens.
“We understand that not every young athlete that plays for us will play high school or college football,” Taylor said. “However, every one of our young athletes will grow up to be a member of a community. This is why we focus on building life skills through football.”
The Militia will host a speed and conditioning clinic on June 30 at Copper Sky Regional Park from 8 to 10 a.m. This free clinic is for current and prospective players to display and build new skills.
The fall season starts July 30.
Besides learning tackle football, the Militia players are urged to participate in community service.
“Our goal is to perform at least one act of service as a team per season. This past season we assisted the Maricopa Food Bank (located at Santa Cruz Elementary School),” Taylor said. “This was a great opportunity for us to support and give back to our community. While at the Food Bank, our players were able to sort and prepare new and donated plastic bags to be filled with vital canned goods and grocery items for the families in need in our community.” See photos below.
Taylor said community service helps the players feel good about themselves through helping others. It also engages them in the community and creates bonds outside the football field.
“That event had a profound impact on our team, because they saw how volunteering can change our lives and the lives of others,” the team manager said. “It also provides a sense of purpose and teaches life lessons.”
The Militia play teams from all over the Valley. The team motto is “Honor, Strength and Courage.”
“We hope to start with that creed and build the confidence, responsibility, respect, discipline, service and team work in each player through our program,” the coach said. “It all starts and ends with fun and helping the players understand and develop a love for the game of football.”
Organizers chose the name Militia to echo the military comparisons intrinsic to football.
“Another reason we selected Militia is that we also really wanted to reflect our patriotism for this great country we live in,” Taylor said. “We have adopted an Americana theme with stars and stripes on our uniforms. With the name Maricopa Militia, we would like to draw from the meaning that helped in the creation of America during the Revolutionary War. We also pay tribute to the men and women who serve our country today.”
Being part of NYS allows the team to keep its costs down and keep the program affordable. Taylor said the team also benefits from “generous donations” from Maricopa businesses like Water and Ice and Native Grill & Wings. This year’s goal is to play in the NYS National Tackle Championship tournament in San Diego.
By Joycelyn Cabrera
After taking bronze medals in the track & field state championships last year, Maricopa High School’s 4×100-meter relay team is hungry for more. Consisting of junior Jacob Cowing and seniors P.J. Austin, Frank Jones and Longman Pyne, the team’s top time of 42.35 (accomplished at the Greenway Invitational April 7 and better than their state time of 42.76 last year) is the second-best in Division II and qualifies them for the Arizona Interscholastic Association competition this week.
The team talked to InMaricopa intern Joycelyn Cabrera about what’s ahead.
Learn about other qualifiers and see an MHS track & field gallery below
What are you expecting from State this time around?
Longman Pyne: “This year our mind is set on gold, but just being able to go there again and compete among the best is an accomplishment.”
Jacob Cowing: “I’d say we’re just trying to win the meet this year. We came up short last year, so it’s time to get a win for all the seniors who are going out this year. And for our 4×100, we got third, so we’re trying to win it this year in D2.”
Frank Jones: “Individually, we want to set high standards, make state records and such.”
Phillip Austin: “It feels great. It feels very important to be the best Maricopa has, and to be top 5 in state overall.”
Cowing: “I think it’s important for us and for Maricopa to be considered one of the best. Also, the middle school kids coming up and trying to have a competing time after we leave from our high school time – it’s kind of important to our community that we’re here to compete with others.”
Jones: “It’s important because our relay team is doing something that no other [MHS] relay team has ever done. We’re basically setting a legacy that younger generations like the elementary schoolers and the middle schoolers can have – to see what they can do.”
How do you prepare for competition individually and as a team?
Pyne: “I just try to block out everything that doesn’t have to do with competing. I go to my happy place and zone in. To get prepared as a team, we practice our exchanges vigorously throughout the week.”
Jones: “I just put a standard in my head, like ‘what time do I need to hit,’ personally. I focus on that all week and during practices. As a team, we really just come together in our 4×100 and do what we need to do – run fast and compete with the best.”
Austin: “Our coach has high expectations every week. He sets what we’re supposed to do, and then when it comes meet time, focus, listen to what he tells us to do. For our 4×100, we as a team have great chemistry, so it starts to become easy.”
MHS athletes also rank high in individual events. Junior Logan Taylor has Division II’s second-best time in the 110-meter hurdles in 14.64. He is fifth-best in the 300-meter hurdles in 40.23.
Jones’ best 200-meter time of 21:95 is sixth in the state, while Cowing ran 22.25, and Austin hit 22.12. The three are competing in the state meet.
Pyne qualified to run in the state meet in the 400-meter dash with a time of 50.77.
Austin’s top result in the long jump, 23-2.5, was fourth best in Division II, and junior Tylen Coleman ranked fourth in the shotput with his top throw of 49-2.5. Coleman also qualified for discus throwing, with a throw of 144-4.
Devin Parady and Coleman both qualified for javelin throwing, with Parady having a throw of 152-0 and Coleman throwing at 138-1.
Parady also qualified for the triple jump, with a leap of 42-1.25.
Cowing’s 100-meter time of 10:87 is eighth best in the division. Austin’s and Jones’ 10.93 in the same event puts them 14th and 15th, respectively. Senior Samual Coles had a 10th-best jump in the pole vault at 12-10.
Among the girls, junior Shannon Coutre’s 200-meter time of 25.86 ranked her No. 4. Coutre also qualified for the 400 with a school-record time of 59.43.
Italy Brookshire qualified to compete in the high jump with a jump of 5-1.
The 4×100-meter relay team’s best time of 50.55 was 15th in the division. The team includes, Sydni Callis, Destinee Chavis, Jakayla Shaw and Alayja Reynolds.
The AIA state championships are May 2 and May 5 at Mesa Community College.
This is a corrected version, clarifying that Phillip Austin qualified to compete in the 200-meter dash at state.
A Maricopa teenager raised the bar during his first power lifting competition last year and is building on his reputation this year.
Turner Stanek, 15, broke state records in the back squat (352 pounds), deadlift (435 pounds) and bench press (198 pounds) at the USA Powerlifting Apeman Strong Fest in Phoenix Sept. 23.
“This is all new to him and it’s pretty awesome,” said Stanek’s mother, Danica.
Last Sunday at the USA Powerlifting Arizona 2018 State Championship, the Mountain Pointe sophomore beat his own records in back squat and deadlift and maintained his previous holding in the bench press category.
He’s now qualified to participate in the 2018 USA Powerlifting Raw Nationals this October in Spokane, Washington.
Turner’s passion for the sport began with encouragement and training from friends and staff at Maricopa CrossFit.
“It’s astonishing because two years ago today I wouldn’t have thought I would hold three records or that I could back squat 402 pounds,” Turner said.
The process produced a physical and mental metamorphosis.
Turner gained muscle and lost pounds with cross fit and powerlifting competitions.
“He has literally gone from kind of a chubby adolescent to looking like a 25-year-old man,” said Danica Stanek. “It’s crazy.”
The once introverted teen also increased his confidence and has since broadened his social horizons by joining clubs at school and encouraging others to accomplish their own fitness goals.
Work inside the gym taught Turner to deal with his emotions.
“I can put all that anger into the bar and take it out on the bar because that’s all the bar wants me to do,” Turner said.
He plans to compete in regional competitions this summer ahead of the national event in September.
Stanek said he wants to be a well-known powerlifter and help others with their fitness ambitions.
“It’s a great feeling what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it as much as you do for powerlifting,” Turner said.
Navy veteran Lt. Brett Zimmerman left Hawaii and sold most of his belongings after his time in the military last year.
It was his goal to live a simpler life, one without clutter to anchor him.
“Life’s too short and I realized that when I was in the Navy and on a submarine — sometimes it gets pretty dark,” said the 30-year-old North Dakota native. “You’re under water for months at a time and you look back and think what am I doing? And what do I want to do with my life?”
The answer to that question soon became clear.
Zimmerman is an avid cyclist, runner and swimmer. Since his senior year at Oregon State University, he’s found freedom in triathlon races.
“I’ve found something that I love wholeheartedly, and I just want to go out there and do the best that I possibly can,” Zimmerman said.
It’s his goal to become a professional triathlete.
Zimmerman’s family winters in Maricopa every year. He spent the better part of this season strength-training and swimming at Copper Sky as well as cycling and running in Rancho El Dorado.
He’s also been modifying a 2005 Dodge Sprinter for a life-changing road trip.
The tour will feature stops in the Midwest and as far as the East Coast as Zimmerman chases down his dream.
The ambition was first born from his late coach Jason Kilderry, who passed away last year.
“I wanted to find a purpose and a meaning in life and he just said, ‘You have an opportunity right now to go out there and just take life by the horns,’” Zimmerman said Kilderry told him.
To live minimally, he enlisted the help of his father Rodney and their neighbor Jim Pfeifle to transform the van into a home-on-wheels.
“It’s gratifying,” said Pfeifle, who worked in construction and contributed much of the woodwork to the van’s interior.
The van is DC-powered with running water, a small refrigerator, a propane stove, a full-size bed and a composting toilet.
‘Ruby’ the van – named after Zimmerman’s July birthstone – will transport the triathlete through at least November when his last race of the year takes place in Miami.
If Zimmerman goes pro, he will travel abroad to races in Europe.
“I’m really excited about what’s about to happen it’s going to be a wild couple of years,” Zimmerman said.
A variety of varsity, junior varsity and junior high activities were in the spotlight leading up to Spring Break. Desert Wind Middle School won the junior high football championship in a showdown with Maricopa Wells, and new Maricopa High School varsity coach Brandon Harris dropped by to look at the youngsters. While the varsity baseball teams at MHS and Sequoia Pathway started their seasons in great form (7-1 and 4-0, respectively), the softball teams have had more of a struggle (3-7-1 and 1-2, respectively). The MHS JV baseball team has posted a 3-1-1 record, including a rough game against Vista Grande (see photos below). In tennis, the MHS girls are 2-3 while the boys are 1-4. Have photos of your favorite student-athlete in spring sports? Send them in: News@InMaricopa.com
A familiar face in Maricopa High School sports was officially re-hired this week.
The Maricopa Unified Governing Board approved Jacob Neill as its new district athletic director Feb. 28.
Neill previously coached MHS basketball for four years. He left in 2016 when he was hired as assistant principal and athletic director for Poston Butte High School.
Becoming an administrator was not just a professional goal, but something that runs in his blood.
“I’m from a family of educators,” Neill said. “A good portion of my family have worked in the school system from admin assistants on up to administrators.”
He’ll soon take the place of Brian Winter, who will be MHS principal next school year. Winter originally hired Neill in 2012.
“To come back with Mr. Winter in the principal position is one of the draws back to (MUSD) because he has a vision and I’m excited to get behind him and do what we need to do to improve Maricopa High School,” Neill said.
Some of the new AD’s responsibilities will include overseeing sports programs at the junior high level and ensuring the high school’s “facilities are on par with what other 5A and 6A schools are to make our students’ experience as good as it possibly can be,” he said.
Neill lives in Laveen with his wife Jess – a fourth-grade teacher – and their 3-year-old daughter Izzy.
High school varsity spring sports are under way. Maricopa High School introduces a new sport in beach volleyball while other sports hope to get back into state contention.
Sequoia Pathway Baseball
CAA Division II Region II
March 2 v. WSST 5 p.m.
March 6 at HA-Laveen 4 p.m.
March 9 v. El Dorado 4 p.m.
March 21 v. South Pointe 4 p.m.
March 26 at ASU Prep Poly 5 p.m.
March 27 at HA-Mesa 4:15 p.m.
April 3 at EVAC 4 p.m.
April 5 at Imagine Prep Coolidge 4:30 p.m.
April 7 v. ALA-Ironwood 11 a.m.
April 9 v. Imagine Prep Coolidge 4:30 p.m.
April 11 v. Canyon State 4 p.m.
Sequoia Pathway Softball
CAA Division II Region I
March 1 v. ALA-Gilbert 4 p.m.
March 7 at Imagine Prep Surprise 4 p.m.
March 9 v. Imagine Prep Coolidge 4 p.m.
April 2 at Tri-City College Prep 4 p.m.
April 4 v. ALA-Ironwood 4 p.m.
April 5 at ALA-Gilbert 4 p.m.
April 10 v. Mission Heights 4 p.m.
April 12 at HA-Laveen 4 p.m.
April 17 v. South Ridge 4 p.m.
April 19 at Paradise Valley Christian 4 p.m.
Maricopa High School Baseball
AIA Division 5A Section Metro (remaining schedule)
March 1 v. Sierra Linda 3:45 p.m.
March 2 v. Desert Edge 3:45 p.m.
March 5 v. Glendale 3:45 p.m.
March 7 v. Ironwood 4 p.m.
March 10-13 Bob Everett Spring Break Classic at Highland HS
March 21 at Vista Grande 6 p.m.
March 22 at Mesquite 4 p.m.
March 26 at Kellis 3:45 p.m.
March 27 v. Kellis 3:45 p.m.
March 29 at Casa Grande 4 p.m.
April 3 at Sunnyslope 4 p.m.
April 5 v. Verrado 3:45 p.m.
April 6 v. Sunnyslope 3:45 p.m.
April 10 v. Apollo 3:45 p.m.
April 11 v. Ironwood 6:30 p.m.
April 12 at Apollo 4 p.m.
April 17 at McClintock 4 p.m.
April 19 v. McClintock (Senior Night) 3:45 p.m.
April 20 at Williams Field 3:45 p.m.
Maricopa High School Softball
AIA Division 5A Section Metro (remaining schedule)
March 1 at Sierra Linda 4 p.m.
March 2 at Desert Edge6 p.m.
March 5 at Glendale 4 p.m.
March 6 v. Vista Grande 3:45 p.m.
March 8 v. Williams Field 3:45 p.m.
March 19 v. Mesquite 3:45 p.m.
March 27 at Kellis 4 p.m.
March 29 v. Casa Grande 3:45 p.m.
March 30 v. Kellis 3:45 p.m.
April 3 v. Sunnyslope 3:45 p.m.
April 5 at Verrado 4 p.m.
April 6 at Sunnyslope 4 p.m.
April 10 at Apollo 4 p.m.
April 11 at Ironwood 4 p.m.
April 12 v. Apollo 3:45 p.m.
April 17 v. McClintock (Senior Night) 3:45 p.m.
April 19 at McClintock 4 p.m.
Maricopa High School Track & Field
AIA Division II
March 7 at Chaparral 4 p.m.
March 10 at Desert Tune-Up (Mountain View Marana) 8 a.m.
March 21 at McClintock 3 p.m.
March 22 at Schuster Jones Under-Class Showcase 12 p.m.
March 28 at Maricopa Twilight 3:30 p.m.
April 13 at Hohokam Invitational 9:30 a.m.
Maricopa High School Boys’ Tennis
AIA Division I Section I (remaining schedule)
March 2 v. Casa Grande 3:30 p.m.
March 8 at Higley 3:30 p.m.
March 22 at Williams Field 3:30 p.m.
March 27 v. Cibola 3:30 p.m.
March 28 v. Tolleson Union 3:30 p.m.
March 29 at San Luis 3:30 p.m.
April 3 at Millennium 3:30 p.m.
April 4 at La Joya Community 3:30 p.m.
April 10 v. Westview 3:30 p.m.
April 12 at Kofa 3:30 p.m.
Maricopa High School Girls’ Tennis
AIA Division I Section I (remaining schedule)
March 1 v. Casteel 3:30 p.m.
March 5 at Casa Grande 3:30 p.m.
March 8 v. Higley 3:30 p.m.
March 27 at Cibola 3 p.m.
March 28 at Tolleson Union 3:30 p.m.
March 29 v. San Luis 3:30 p.m.
April 3 v. Millennium 3:30 p.m.
April 4 v. La Joya Community 3:30 p.m.
April 10 at Westview 3:30 p.m.
April 12 v. Kofa 3:30 p.m.
April 16 v. Williams Field 3:30 p.m.
Maricopa High School Beach Volleyball
AIA Division I Section IV (remaining schedule)
March 5 v. Casteel at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
March 26 v. Millennium at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
March 28 at Willow Canyon at Victory Lane Complex 4 p.m.
April 2 at Shadow Ridge at Victory Lane Complex 4 p.m.
April 4 at Perry at Seville Golf & Country Club 6:30 p.m.
April 9 v. Verrado at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
April 11 v. Dysart at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
April 13 v. Hamilton at Copper Sky (Senior Night) 4 p.m.
April 16 at Mesquite High School 4 p.m.
Maricopa High School Softball fell at home, 12-2, against Florence Thursday during the team’s season opener at the annual Krystin Diehl Tournament.
It was the first game led by new head coach Jason Crawford. He joined MHS in August as an English teacher.
A day ahead of the game, Crawford said the team’s biggest challenge is its nerves.
“We have been working hard the entire off season for this moment, and now that it’s here, I need to keep the girls’ from getting too nervous and losing focus of our goals,” Crawford said.
The team was plagued with pre-season jitters during its scrimmage Saturday, Crawford said, and despite moments of confidence on the mound and behind the plate Thursday, Rams softball couldn’t shake the butterflies for a win.
Rams varsity softball is a young team this year — made up of mostly underclassmen and only a handful of juniors and seniors.
Crawford said he’s looking to his older players to mentor their newest players on the field.
With the first game under their belt, Crawford said the team is “working out those kinks of youth and inexperience.”
Rams softball faces off against McClintock High Friday at 4:30 p.m.
This story has been corrected from a previous version to indicate Mr. Crawford is an English teacher.
Saturday, Sequoia Pathway’s wrestling team competed in the Canyon Athletic Association 2018 Wrestling State Championships. The team finished third behind ALA-Gilbert and Harvest Prep of Yuma.
The Pumas’ five state champions:
Joshua Husick 23-0 (120 pounds)
Igor Husick 35-1 (126 pounds)
Kawehialani Kalulu 15-9 (girls 126 pounds), beat last year’s champion.
Anthony Rohde 38-2 (138 pounds)
Jackson Lee 32-0 (220 pounds)
George Husick Coach of the Year
Lucio Dominguez was second at 285 pounds. Will Senne (132 pounds) and A.J. Anderson (120 pounds) both placed third. Patrick Lisby placed fourth at 106 pounds.
Maricopa High School Baseball’s season opener started at home Wednesday against Tempe High during the school’s annual Matt Huffman Tournament.
The tourney began Wednesday afternoon between Dobson and Poston Butte and runs through Saturday.
Rams head coach Andrew Pollak said he’s excited about the many players on the team with the potential to have a big year, some of them including his returning seniors.
“They’ve been through the program for four years now, and they could’ve easily chosen to leave town and go to a different school, but they stayed here and have done a good job representing our city,” Pollak said.
Four-year varsity player Carter Paine is slated to be No. 1 on the mound this year across from the Rams’ leader behind the plate, catcher Mason Williamson.
Belcher twins, Taylor and Tyler, will also return. Both pitchers and fielders, they are among those who Pollak said will have a “huge impact” on the field this year.
Senior Kevin McDill will return to the mound and the outfield for the Rams, and Andres Gusse is the team’s “tremendous first baseman,” Pollak said.
The team’s retention of quality players is what Pollak said is a testament to the program and its division.
“We play really good competition,” Pollak said. “We don’t have any cupcakes on our schedule.”
Rams play Poston Butte Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and finish the tourney Saturday with a game at 12:30 p.m.
Post-tournament play begins March 1 at home against Sierra Linda.
A Maricopan hopes his new position can re-invigorate a local love of tennis.
Carlos Rivas was named to the executive committee of U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) Central Arizona. He will serve as secretary.
“The goal is to grow tennis and get more people to play it,” Rivas said. “When you love something you just want to share it.”
Originally from California, Rivas picked up the sport as a youngster wanting to be like Andre Agassi “with all the hair and crazy clothes.” He found a $10 racket and started hitting balls with his brother. He played in high school and at Paradise Valley Community College.
Through tennis he met some of his best friends. He loved that sportsmanship was a vital part of the game, with players calling their own lines. After college, he was like many others who were unaware they could keep playing organized tennis. It was a decade before he discovered USTA programs.
Rivas said contrary to the stereotype that tennis is an elite, expensive sport, he has found it accessible and diverse. Bargain rackets and tennis balls are easily available, he said, and Maricopa has tennis courts in both its city parks.
He wants to see USTA’s Net Generation program utilized locally. Rivas said it offers resources to youth players and teaches coaches “how to do outreach.”
The goal is not to create professional tennis champions but to instill skills that will set up kids for a lifetime of healthy recreation. Rivas said most USTA Central Arizona members are simply leisure players.
Matt Gleason, executive director of USTA Central Arizona, said membership has grown by about 600 in the last five years in Arizona. Nationwide, the growth rate of 4 percent is outpacing other high school sports.
“Tennis is a tough skillset,” Gleason said. “There isn’t anyone who can’t kick a ball, but tennis is all athletic coordination.”
USTA wants to spread its program curriculum and get schools and youth programs outfitted in fundamentals and equipment.
“I’m interested in helping us get some of the programs going and growing,” Gleason said. “We’ve done a lot to grow recreational tennis.”
Rivas, who works at Verizon in Chandler, said he wants to have his kids involved in the sport and inspire a love for tennis in other young players.
“It’s a cool sport to play.”
The Maricopa High School girls’ basketball team may be quietly hanging around the 14th ranking in 5A, but that’s OK with coach Melvin Mitchell.
“A lot of people are kind of writing us off, which is good. We don’t need the attention right now,” the third-year head coach said. “We’re just waiting and preparing for February.”
The Rams coasted through a 5A Metro game Tuesday, thumping McClintock 80-31 while getting the bench plenty of playing time.
“It became a track race a little bit, which I really didn’t want it to get,” Mitchell said. “I wanted to bring the ball up slowly and work around the offense, but you can’t tell them not to score if it’s a fast-break layup.”
Maricopa is 4-0 in Metro play, but the Rams have sixth-ranked Apollo waiting for them Friday night. Apollo has a very tall team loaded with seniors. Mitchell said the Hawks run most of their plays through 6-foot junior Jakaree Harris. Apollo also has a “nice new big” in 6-foot-1 freshman Haylee Weathersby, who is averaging 16 points a game. Both are strong offensive rebounders.
“Limiting them to one possession is going to be key,” Mitchell said.
All but one of Maricopa’s remaining regular-season games are Metro contests. The Rams sit on top of the region with Apollo. Overall, Maricopa is 12-7.
“I think we’re just very young. We’re not necessarily deep,” Mitchell said. “Some of our younger players need to step up and just learn and know their role, and they got the opportunity to show some of that tonight.”
Against McClintock, MHS senior Sydni Callis led all scoring with 24 points. She also had four steals and five assists. Junior Jayla Johnson, recovering from injury, “didn’t look like herself,” according to Mitchell, but still scored 19 points, 14 in the first half. The coach said Johnson needed to be 100 percent in order for the team to make a run in the playoffs.
Freshman Brook Smith scored nine points. Italy Brookshire and freshman Evone Santiago scored eight each. Taylor Coleman led the rebounding with seven while scoring six points.
The next game for the Rams is Thursday against Ironwood in Maricopa. Varsity game time is 7 p.m.
The Maricopa High School boys’ basketball team carries a 5-3 record into tonight’s match-up with Casa Grande.
The Rams are coming of a four-game home stand, which they split. They defeated Campo Verde and Willow Canyon but lost to Poston Butte and Mountain View Marana.
Maricopa has made an impact with their fitness, wearing down opponents late in the game. Head coach Tony Fuller credited the ongoing training of the team members, many of whom excel in football, track and other sports.
“That’s something we have to do, run them as much as we can and get them tired,” he said. “We trying to be the best-conditioned team in Arizona; that’s our goal.”
That helped the Rams nearly pull off a miracle comeback Friday against Mountain View. Though Maricopa took an early lead, the Mountain Lions built a 17-point lead in the second quarter. But the Rams adjusted their effort against the taller, deeper, more exhausted team and worked all the way back to within three points in the final seconds before the 62-57 loss.
“They felt like they lost an opportunity, that maybe if they played that way for the entire 32 minutes, we might have won the game,” Fuller said. “So it was a lesson.”
Hosting Willow Canyon on Tuesday, the Rams won 83-67. It was Maricopa’s highest point total of the season.
“I just wanted us to come out a play hard,” Fuller said. “I thought we played a good second half last game, but sometimes we lose focus.”
The Wildcats could do little to stop Maricopa senior Josh Johnson, who stacked up 45 points. Twenty-seven of those came in the first half. He hit seven 3-pointers, including one from near mid-court at the halftime buzzer. Johnson also had nine rebounds, five steals and five assists.
Junior Jelani Elliott scored 10 points and had three rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot. Senior El Jones scored eight points. Senior Longman Pyne had nine rebounds, three assists and a steal to go with his two points.
Tonight’s game starts at 7 p.m. in Casa Grande, where the Cougars are 0-6. The Rams return home Friday to host region rival Ironwood.