Sports & Recreation

Salt River Lady Eagle Update

Submitted by Shawn V. Lytle
Salt River High School

Lady Eagles Avenge Last Year’s Semifinal Loss to Pima in Overtime
The Lady Eagles had a little bit of revenge on their minds when the now 2A Pima Roughriders came to town on December 18. Last year Pima knocked SRHS out in the state semifinals, costing them a chance at a state championship.

The game started out with both teams playing great defense. It was tied at 4-4 early in the first quarter before the Lady Eagles went cold from the field. Pima was leading 12-4. In the second quarter, the Lady Eagles found some offense but really stepped up on the defensive end, holding Pima to just 8 points in the quarter. With a 20-16 deficit going into halftime, the Lady Eagles made some adjustments to their offense and took a 29-25 lead entering into the final quarter.

The Lady Eagles got a little too aggressive in the fourth quarter and picked up some fouls; Pima took advantage to tie the game at the end of regulation and force overtime. In the overtime period, the Lady Eagles, led by Monique Newton and Mikki Ramirez, went 4-6 from the free-throw line to clinch the game and come out with a 49-45 win. This win brought the Lady Eagles’ record to 10-2.

Shorthanded Lady Eagles Drop a Game to Gila Bend
After possibly one of the best wins in school history, the Lady Eagles traveled to Gila Bend to face the No. 2-ranked Gila Monsters of Gila Bend on December 19.

The Lady Eagles were a little shorthanded, missing starting center Cristina Valadez, who was unable to travel after tweaking her knee the night before. Sixth man Britney Hanna was out of town. So with both post players out, the Lady Eagles had to make some changes to their lineup.

Despite this setback, the girls started the game well, taking a 19-14 first-quarter lead. Gila Bend came out in a box-and-1 offense on leading scorer Mikki Ramirez, trying to slow her down. Getting her first varsity start, freshman Gabby Ramirez gave the team a big lift, hitting two 3-pointers as well as a 2-point field goal in the first quarter. In the first half, with Salt River getting the benefit of a lot of calls, the Lady Eagles took a 34-27 lead into the break. In the second half, the calls started to go against Salt River, and their 12-point lead started to dwindle.

With a 23-4 free-throw differential in the second half, Gila Bend was able to get away with a 67-58 win. With this loss, the Lady Eagles’ record went to 10-3.

Payson Holiday Basketball Tournament
Round 1: 1A Salt River Lady Eagles defeat the 5A D-1 Warriors of Westwood in the opening round of the Payson Holiday Tournament

As soon as the 2009 Payson Holiday Basketball Tournament was announced, the Lady Eagles had this game circled. They opened up against the Westwood Warriors on December 28, making the second time in SRHS history that the 1A Salt River Lady Eagles took on the 5A D-1 Warriors. It is not typical to see a 1A school play a 5A school, but the Lady Eagles were up for the challenge. It would be a mismatch in the sizes of schools, with Westwood having 3,000-plus students and Salt River having 175, but it was not a mismatch on the court, with Salt River having a well-put-together, solid team.

Salt River came out a little too hyped up for the game and they were not clicking.

Despite this, the Lady Eagles were able to take an 11-7 lead after the first quarter, in a balanced attack with five players scoring. In the second quarter, junior guard Mikki Ramirez got on a hot streak, scoring 12 consecutive points.

This gave the Lady Eagles a 23-17 halftime lead. In the third quarter it was more of the same, with the Lady Eagles holding a 5-point lead going into the fourth quarter. In the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Lady Eagles found their scoring touch, racking up 17 points. Even with Westwood trying to make a last-minute stand, the little 1A school with a big heart was just too much for the 5A Warriors of Westwood. The final score was 51-45. Salt River was led in scoring by Mikki Ramirez with 21 and Monique Newton with 13.

Round 2: Mountain Ridge’s Depth Too Much to Overcome

With just a few hours to rest after beating Westwood on December 28, the Lady Eagles had to take on yet another 5A D-1 team in the second round of the Payson Holiday Tournament. The Lady Eagles started slowly, scoring only 7 points in the first quarter while giving up 15 to Mountain Ridge. In the second quarter, the Lady Eagles found ways to score, but with tired legs from the Christmas break and having played a game a few hours earlier, the defense was lacking. This allowed Mountain Ridge to score 16 points and take a 31-22 lead at the half.

Once again, the Lady Eagles came out slowly to start the third quarter, with Mountain Ridge taking a 22-point lead halfway through the third. A timeout was called to stop the bleeding, and that it did. From that point on, the Lady Eagles went on to cut the 22-point lead to 6 at the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter started out with more of the same from the Lady Eagles, who came back all the way from 22 points down to tie the game. That was a huge accomplishment; but, as when this typically happens, the Lady Eagles used up so much energy to battle back from that deficit that they were not able to sustain it. With a final of 62-48, the Lady Eagles had to be proud of the way they battled back to give one of the top 5A teams in the state a run for their money. Salt River was led by Mikki Ramirez with 20 and Monique Newton with 11.

Round 3: SRHS Lady Eagles Blow Out 5A Mesa High School

Playing their third 5A D-1 school in a row, the Lady Eagles knew that the Mesa Jackrabbits would be a formidable foe. With an 8 a.m. start time, the Lady Eagles woke up early on December 29 and were focused on the task at hand. They stepped up and started out the game doing everything right, but the ball would just not go in the basket. The shots were good shots, but the ball kept rimming out. After the first quarter they were down 11-7, but during the break between quarters they were told to keep doing what they were doing and eventually the shots would fall, and in the second quarter they did. Salt River came out on fire.

They scored a season-high 33 points in the second quarter to completely take the life out of Mesa High. Everyone on the team contributed, with five players scoring. Mesa had no answer for the Lady Eagles, who took a 42-22 lead into the half.

The Lady Eagles started out the second half the same way, going on an 11-4 run to start the third quarter. About midway through the quarter, sophomore Blossom Wood was on a breakaway lay-up and was fouled hard in the air by a Mesa High player. After the contact in the air, the Mesa High player landed on her head and stayed down on the ground. The Payson EMTs were called in and the player was taken to the hospital. There was about a 30-minute break in the action, which forced the hot Lady Eagles to cool off just a bit.

A new rule in Arizona high school basketball is the Mercy Rule: When a team is up by 30 or more points in the fourth quarter, the game clock becomes a running clock, and it will not stop except for timeouts. Just after the start of the fourth quarter, the Lady Eagles took a 30-point lead and the clock started to run. SRHS finished the game with a 64-38 win over the Jackrabbits from Mesa High.

Statistical leaders for SRHS were Mikki Ramirez with 28 points; Monique Newton with 13 points, 9 assists and 5 steals; Gabby Ramirez with 8 points; Dashia Enos with 7 points; Blossom Wood with 5 points and 5 steals; Kelcie Manuel with 2 points; and Britney Hanna with 1 point and 5 rebounds.

Round 4: Salt River High School Knocks Off 3A Blue Ridge for Fifth Place in the Payson Holiday Tournament

The Lady Eagles finished the 2009 Payson Holiday Tournament in fifth place after knocking off 3A Blue Ridge December 29. The Lady Eagles started off hot, scoring 22 points in the first period and holding Blue Ridge to 11. The second quarter was more of the same, with the Lady Eagles scoring 18 points. In the first half, the Lady Eagles hit five 3-point field goals, with five different Eagles players scoring. This gave them a 40-29 first-half lead.

In the second half, the Eagles outscored Blue Ridge 67-52 for the final. Monique Newton dished out 10 assists while scoring 12 points; Mikki Ramirez dropped in 36 points as well. Sophomore Blossom Wood pitched in with 8 points, while Britney Hanna gathered 6 rebounds and scored 6 points. Also contributing were Dashia Eros with 2 points, Gabby Ramirez with 2 and Kelcie Manuel with 1.

Overall, this was a very good tournament for the Salt River Lady Eagles, who went 3-1 while beating two 5A schools and a 3A school.

Salt River Starts the New Year Right by Beating the 2A San Carlos Braves
In front of about 1,000 San Carlos fans on January 2, the Salt River Lady Eagles faced the fifth-ranked Braves and came away with the win. In the first two quarters it was back and forth, both teams looking a little sloppy from the Christmas layoff.

At the end of the first half, the score was tied at 19. In the third quarter the Lady Eagles started to find their stride, scoring 23 points and holding San Carlos to just 15. The long-distance shooting from Mikki Ramirez and Monique Newton helped give the Lady Eagles a 7-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

San Carlos tried to make a move, but Salt River’s spread offense was too much for them to handle.

Britney Hanna scored 7 in the fourth to help lead the Lady Eagles to the hard-fought win in a hostile gym. Mikki Ramirez, Britney Hanna and Monique Newton were all in double figures. Monique Newton also dropped 7 dimes and had 10 steals.

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