MARICOPA — Maricopa ended the same way it started Thursday against Glendale Independence — closing out its 41-30 win in a similar fashion as it began the first half.

“A win is a win, and we will go away happy with it,” Maricopa coach RaShawn Calvert said. “Independence is a hard-fighting team so we scouted — we looked at what we needed to do, which was rebound and take care of their big girl and being able to put her on the bench, and that really got us going.”

Maricopa (8-3) jumped out to a 17-9 lead in the second quarter, but Independence (5-4) closed the gap by going on an 8-0 run to cut the lead to 19-17 at halftime. The Patriots would tie it at 19-19 to start the third quarter and take a 26-25 lead before the Rams recaptured the lead at 29-27 going into the fourth quarter.

“We got gassed,” Calvert said. “(Thursday night) was probably the first time we full-court pressed for an entire half of a basketball game, so we got gassed physically and mentally. But once we were able to get it back together, we were able to do what we were supposed to do.”

Maricopa would rebound in the fourth quarter —outscoring Independence 12-3 in the quarter for the 11-point win.

Brooke Smith led the Rams with 18 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter. Evone Santiago, Tayler Coleman and Shakira Gillespie each had 10 rebounds.

Anaya Rodriguez led the Patriots with 10 points.

Maricopa will get a much-needed break with the Christmas holiday before heading to San Diego for a tournament Dec. 27-28.

“We will see good competition there, which will set us up for region play, and it will be tougher than what we saw here (against Independence),” Calvert said.

The Rams will open 5A San Tan region play Jan. 4 against Gilbert Williams Field at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Calvert knows the Rams will have their work cut out for them to win the region. Last year, four of the six teams qualified for the 5A playoffs, with three teams making it to the quarterfinals and two teams, Queen Creek Casteel and Gilbert, advancing to the semifinals.

“I think it’s the toughest region for 5A that we are in,” Calvert said. “At least for girls basketball, it is the toughest region.”

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