The undefeated Salt River Junior High School girls basketball team played for the state basketball championship on Saturday, February 14, in the 2015 Canyon Athletics Association (CAA) Division I state championship against Sequoia Pathway.
The Lady Eagles were confident upon reaching the championship game, as they went through and beat most of their toughest competition in the Division I state tournament bracket.
“Our team is pretty good this year. We went undefeated all season, and it was easy for us to play together [because] many of us have been playing together for a very long time, either through the Boys & Girls Club or through different leagues,” said player Ki-Ana Loring.
During their first game in the division I championship bracket Sweet 16, the Lady Eagles played against Legacy Traditional Casa Grande, winning 38-27.
“We’ve been working very hard, and so far we have not had really tough competition even though some games are very frustrating,” said Mieve Kochampane. “We were good at three-pointers, shooting and passing, as well as playing defense.”
Eighth-grader Aaliyah Nodman said the girls were great at communication throughout the games. “I also like having fun on the team; we all get along together,” said Nodman.
Junior Eagles head coach Robert Ramirez said the girls have always been hard workers. “They went through the whole season undefeated, and hopefully we can go all the way undefeated because we got some tough competition,” said Ramirez. “They did a good job this year.”
First-year player Sialik King said she was amazed at how she was able to grow because of basketball.
“This was my first year on the team playing, and I have been playing in most of the games as center,” said King. “Playing basketball has really helped me; I was once very sensitive. Our coach, Robert, taught me a lot about teamwork, and I’m also really good at rebounding the ball.”
Other players, such as Graceland Lewis, Layla Shaw and Jolee Miguel, noted how the team is like a big family. They never let each other down and have great defensive skills on the court.
“We are really a small team, but we can take on a lot of the big kids we play against,” said Miguel.
The Junior Eagles made it to the championship game, but the final score was Pathway 39, Eagles 25. The Eagles finished as runner-up in the state tournament.
“They did well but just came up short,” said Ramirez. “The girls came out a little overconfident and I think it got to them, but overall they accomplished a lot of things and they got this far. We just started too slow and the [opposing] team scored 12 points ahead.”
Last year the junior Lady Eagles won the 2014 state championship title.
2015 CAA Division I Results
Salt River Junior High vs. Legacy Traditional Casa Grande, 38-27 W
Legacy Traditional Laveen vs. Salt River Junior High 32-37 W
Legacy Traditional NW Tucson vs. Salt River Junior High 33-37 W
Salt River Junior High vs. Sequoia Pathway 25-39 L