By posting a 9-1 record, the seventh-grade Lady Maverick basketball team turned in the most successful season among the four Rim Country Middle School teams participating in the White Mountain League.
The highlight of the campaign, coaches Nicole Ward and Ned Schall agree, was winning the Roadrunner Invitational Middle School Tournament held last weekend in Holbrook, along with a 30-29 win over Whiteriver on Feb. 11.
In copping the Roadrunner tourney crown, all the Mavs needed were two wins -- a 40-35 triumph over Holbrook and a 32-23 thumping of Winslow.
Against Holbrook, Whitney Hardt and Rene Robertson led the Maverick scoring parade with 12 points each.
The duo's shooting helped RCMS overcome a deadly Holbrook outside attack that generated a trio of three- point bombs in the fourth quarter alone. Traditionally, seventh-grade girls' games do not feature such accurate shooting from beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch arc, Schall said.
In whipping Winslow, the Lady Mavs again relied on the offense of Hardt (12 points) and Robertson (eight).
Amy Wilcox chipped-in with five points, and Sharley Hall finished with four.
A rare win in Whiteriver
Emerging victorious in Whiteriver against the homestanding Roughriders has proven a tough task since RCMS joined the White Mountain League five years ago. But the Lady Mavs were able to do just that, thanks to some heady ball-handling in the final minute.
With the Mavs leading 30-29 and in possession of the ball with 52 seconds remaining, Dudley and Schall signaled for a time out. During it, the coaches asked their charges to run a spread offense with good ball movement and try to run out the clock.
"We really didn't need to score, just hold on to the ball," Dudley said.
Like three-point shots, a successful delay tactic on the middle-school level is a difficult task.
With guards Whitney Hardt, Wilcox and Hall doing most of the ball-handling and passing, the Mavs were able to maintain possession and take the victory.
The team's execution of the delay, Dudley said, "was awesome. It won us the game."
The coaches also attributed the winning effort to a well-rounded scoring effort led by Staci Scholl (eight), Robertson (six), Breanna Zumbro (five), Hall (five) and Whitney Hardt (four).
The only game RCMS dropped in 1999 was a 35-34 loss to visiting Cibecue in the season opener, Jan. 26.
More than two weeks later in Cibecue, RCMS turned the table, winning 61-8. In that game, Cibecue was missing several starters due to illness and academic problems.
The seventh-grade RCMS boys' team has also been successful, posting an 8-4 mark in WML action.
The Mavs' last outing -- Feb. 22 in Show Low -- wasn't one of the squad's better efforts.
The Cougars jumped on the Mavs early and clawed their way to a 46-26 win, outscoring the RCMS squad in every quarter.
Only Mike Barr's team-high eight points for the Mavs and five from Cort Connolly kept the score respectable.
In three earlier games, the Mavs whipped Whiteriver 41-37, Cibecue 61-30 and Young 47-25.
Against Whiteriver, Trevor LaHaye led all scorers with 12 points. Barr contributed 11 and Billy Bob Hoyt had six.
Barr, at 5 foot, 10 inches, towers over most of his foes and was able to put his height to good use against Cibecue, scoring a game-high 21 points. Brandon Kelley led the Mav's charge against Young with 11 points.