The 1997-98 Sahuaro High School girls basketball team was an extraordinary group of young women. They were highly focused, team-oriented and unified in purpose. The team was “born’’ after a close and heartbreaking loss in the quarterfinals of the 1997 state championship tournament. Many of the players had one more year of high school and saw great potential in the 1997-98 season.

Head coach Jim Scott knew the formula; his ‘93 Sahuaro team had gone 28-4 to win his first state championship.

The pursuit of the ‘98 state championship began in the summer of 1997. They participated in camps and summer leagues and traveled to Phoenix and California to play elite competition. After losing only two games that summer, the Cougars, coached by Jim Scott, felt they were fully battle-tested and prepared for an epic ‘98 season.

Sahuaro was ranked No. 3 in Class 4A entering the season. They opened 10-0, which included the championship of the Flowing Wells Invitational, in which the Cougars beat teams ranked Nos. 1 and 5 in the Class 5A classification.

As a result, Sahuaro climbed to No. 1 in the state rankings, a position it held the rest of the season.

Sahuaro’s only loss of the season was against the 1997 state champion Catalina Foothills Falcons, on the road in front of a large and boisterous crowd, 53-49. Foothills was ranked No. 2.

However, the Cougars gained revenge a few weeks later, routing Foothills 55-27 and winning the Sonoran Region title. In a rubber match, Sahuaro again defeated Foothills 66-38, claiming the No. 1 seed for the state tournament.

Sahuaro was dominant in the state championships, defeating Flagstaff Coconino 70-41, followed by a 73-29 win over Glendale Cactus in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Scott’s team beat Prescott 48-34.
Matched against No. 2 Scottsdale Saguaro in the finals, the Cougars were superb. They won going away, 57-35 to finish the season 30-1.
Sahuaro’s 1998 state championship team was so good that it had three players picked to the Arizona Daily Star’s All-City first team: Katie Bruns, Kelli Glowacka and Nicole Nelson. The second team included three more Cougars: Kate Gonzalez, Kristina Henry and Lovie Mathis. Two more key contributors, Renee Chamberlain and Jamie Konigsfeld, were listed as honorable mention all-stars.

“We were very deep and had so many reliable contributors,’’ said Scott. It was a pleasure to coach these young women.”