Heading into their January 18 game, the Salt River Lady Eagles varsity girl’s basketball team knew they were going up against the No. 1 ranked girls from the Gilbert Christian Knights. But the team stepped onto the court ready to play.
Salt River gave up the lead to Gilbert Christian only twice in the first half. The first lead change came when Gilbert Christian’s Colleen Young hit a three-point shot to go ahead 6-4. The Lady Eagles answered back, scoring six points and shutting out Gilbert Christian until the end of the first quarter, when Whitney Williams hit a three-point shot at the buzzer to bring the game to within three points, 13-10.
Halfway through the second quarter, Gilbert Christian began to gain momentum, earning a steal and taking it to the basket on the other end to trail 25-19. With 50 seconds left to play, Gilbert Christian begin to deny the lane and give defensive pressure. Salt River maintained the one-point lead, but threw the ball away on their next possession. The Knights put down two free throws to take a 27-26 lead and earned one more free throw before the end of the second quarter, heading into the locker room with the 28-26 lead over the Eagles.
The entire third quarter continued to go back and forth in favor of both teams, but toward the end of the quarter Salt River began to pick up their play. Leann Watchman earned a defensive steal, which was followed by a pass from Blossom Wood who assisted Gabby Ramirez. The Eagles trailed 32-30 with a little more than two minutes to play. Mikki Ramirez hit an 18-foot jump shot and followed that with a lay-up to tie the game at 34. On the very next play she finished a lay-up to take the 37-36 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Mikki Ramirez continued her offensive run with a drive straight up the lane on the Knights at the start of the fourth quarter. After turning over the ball, the Lady Eagles were forced to play solid defense. After a good effort, the Eagles sent Annie Pinkerton of Gilbert Christian to the line to tie the game. Mikki Ramirez added another quick lay-up for the Eagles. Wood continued with high-pressure defense, forcing the ball to be turned over. She assisted Gabby Ramirez under the basket for the bucket. The Eagles continued on their offensive push with a big pass play from Wood to Mikki Ramirez, who dished the ball to Gabby Ramirez for the lay-up. With four minutes left in the game, Gabby Ramirez was sent to the line, putting away two free throws. Wood answered again for Salt River, forcing a turnover on the other end, and the Eagles led by eight. But the Knights were not ready to quit, as Sheralynn Sampson hit a three-point shot and followed that with a jumper to put the Knights within three. Mikki Ramirez found Dakota Loring under the basket and a quick touch off the glass put the Eagles ahead 51-46.
The Lady Eagles made the game interesting as a late turnover gave the Knights an opportunity to call a timeout and game-plan for the next inbound play. Salt River denied the good look for Gilbert Christian and battled on the ground for possession. The possession arrow was in favor of Salt River and all that was left to do was kill the clock. The Lady Eagles prevailed 53-51.