Maricopa girls basketball armed with tough defense, experienced roster in jump to 6A
Rashawn Calvert, third season
2019-20 AT A GLANCE
Overall record: 9-9
Region record: 2-8 (fifth place in 5A San Tan)
ALL-REGION PLAYERS DEPARTED
G Shakira Gillespie, second team
F Tayler Riley-Coleman, honorable mention
PLAYERS TO WATCH
G Brooke Smith, sr., 5-8
Smith is expected to be the Rams’ leader, though the team is very experienced and full of seniors. She was a second-team 5A San Tan all-region pick as a junior.
G Evone Santiago, sr., 5-0
With Gillespie’s departure, Santiago will have to step up in the backcourt alongside Smith. She received honorable mention all-region last season.
F/C Shakaiya Irving, sr.
Irving will help fill the void down low left by the graduated Riley-Coleman.
F/C Amya Maddox, sr.
Maddox will help Irving in the frontcourt for the Rams, who likely will face bigger teams in the 6A conference than they saw in 5A.
G Antanique Fortune, sr.
Fortune is yet another senior to watch as Maricopa tries to build on last season’s 9-9 campaign.
In the Rams’ first season under Calvert in 2018-19, they advanced to the second round of the 5A state playoffs after a 13-5 regular season. They’ll try to return to that level of success despite making the jump to the 6A Desert Southwest.
Experience, chemistry and defense are obvious strengths for Maricopa, but the Rams must improve their conditioning following an offseason of limited workouts.
“Moving to 6A will be tough, but we will be competitive every game,” Calvert said.
“I’m excited to add young talent with new pieces and the amount of senior leadership we have. This season will be interesting, like any other team, due to the many setbacks of COVID. We are just thankful and will be grateful for any game we actually make it to play this season.” — Rashawn Calvert