A group of 7th grade girls from Dutcher Middle School recently orchestrated a season to remember on the basketball court. Led by head coach Salinda Mabie, the Diamondbacks completed the season with an undefeated record, 22-0, and three tournament championships— a feat that is by no means common.
“I was told before I came in that I had a good athletic group,” Mabie said. “I knew when I started that it was going to be a fun year; we had the key components to have a successful season.”
Every great team needs a solid foundation and Mabie’s group had its familiarity with each other and all around athleticism. Many of the girls on the team were already teammates prior to the season’s beginning, either on the volleyball court, softball diamond, or soccer field. This, combined with a pair of travel ball players, proved to be the perfect recipe for Dutcher’s success.
Whitney Barnes and Kaylin Randhawa were Mabie’s towering players with travel experience, but the pair didn’t just dominate on the court, they also taught their teammates important basketball skills and tips.
“They really helped the other girls," Mabie said. “They got everybody involved and really helped, so our team really grew throughout the season.”
By their fifth game Mabie recognized her team’s potential. Shortly after, Dutcher beat the likes of Caesar Chaves and Mae Hensley Junior High, winning tournaments at Prescott, Mae Hensley, and Gustine— giving credence to its coaches’ early instincts.
Now, with the 8th grade on the horizon, plans are to keep the undefeated group together, including coach Mabie, and shoot for perfection one more time.
“Everyone had so much fun that we all want to come back,” Mabie said. “We’d love to repeat as undefeated, but I know that everyone else is going to step it up because they got beat by us. We’re going to have a bull’s eye on our back.”