The late Kobe Bryant often used the term “Mamba Mentality” to describe how he played, which is playing with intense focus and having a relentless approach in preparation and competition.

His ultimate goal was to not only win but also dominate.

And that couldn’t ring more true with how Annette Ramirez has played since debuting with Sarcoxie as a freshman in 2017-18.

She’s certainly used the Mamba Mentality over her last two games for the Bears, firing in 45 points and sparking a fourth-quarter comeback in a 57-51 win over New Covenant on Jan 8. While Ramirez registered a season high for points, it wasn’t her career-high as she tallied 51 in a game last season.

But Ramirez shattered her career-high mark and the school record four days later, dropping 54 points to guide Sarcoxie to a 69-61 victory over Crane on Tuesday night.

“She has been putting on clinics here at A.L. Gurley Gymnasium the last couple of nights,” Sarcoxie coach April Ellis said.

For Ramirez, a 5-foot-4 combo guard, her offensive ability is impressive. She’s averaging nearly 28 points per game with 7.1 rebounds and 4.8 steals through nine games this season after averaging 27.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.3 steals last year.

“Most importantly, I just want to get us winning,” Ramirez said. “If I scored two points and got a win, then so be it. That comes with the team itself because I wouldn’t be able to do any of that without them.”

The talented senior currently holds offers from NCAA Division III Aurora University, Principia College and JUCO Crowder College. Ramirez said she would like to commit sometime before the district playoffs arrive in late-February.

Ellis said what’s allowed Ramirez to find an extra level as a scorer of late is the close-knit team dynamic.

“They’re doing a lot of stuff outside of basketball together,” the coach added. “We have really upped the ante in practice. We talk about going game speed in practice and bringing the physicality of the game in practice. The girls are all comfortable in their role and Annette has hit a groove. She had a little bit of a shooting slump right before that. She missed some shots the average person would miss but typically Annette doesn’t miss. She battled through that and has come back ten-fold.”

Ramirez, who broke the 1,000-point mark last January, currently sits at 1,604 points for her career. Ellis believes she’s the program’s all-time leading scorer, but complete records are not available.

Even with 50-plus point nights, Ramirez said there’s still room to be better.

“I'm a very confident shooter and from all around the floor, too,” Ramirez said. “I have put in the work for it, so I feel pretty good. I would also say I’m trying to get in and rebound some more. I don’t do awful at that, but I’ll watch film and I’ll see I could have got that rebound if I would have crashed the boards. I’m just trying to get the ball. That’s where most of my points come from is a rebound and a quick go."

Ramirez has also been taking increasingly more pride on the defensive end.

“That’s what will win you games,” Ramirez said. “You could have a great game offensively, but if your defense isn’t there and you don’t get the win, it doesn’t really count.”

Not only has Ramirez helped the Bears to a 6-3 start this season after a 12-12 finish last year, her presence has been truly invaluable to the program, according to Ellis.

“I don’t know if you could ever find someone who would say anything negative about Annette,” Ellis said. “Her character first and foremost is second to none on and off the floor. She’s got the genuineness that you hope for in your own kid. She’s the type of player people say ‘Gosh, how many times can she play? When does she graduate?’ She’s definitely been a trendsetter, a role model for our program."

As for the rest of the season, Ramirez’s aspirations are sky high.

“Just to go all the way,” Ramirez said. “That’s my goal for us. Having those points is fun and all, but I would love to win the (Southwest) Conference, get our district and even possibly go to state if we can get that far. My goal is to try and make it as far as we can.”

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