2023 Press Pass Sports Girls Basketball Team

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Graphic by Joe Gacia III

The Texas High School basketball season came to a close, and it was another amazing year for the Texas Panhandle. Here’s a look at the 2023 Press Pass Sports Girls Basketball Team.

Photo by Joe Garcia III

Coach of Year

Eric Schilling, Nazareth 

You don’t find many coach’s as passionate about basketball than Nazareth’s Eric Schilling.

Heading into the 2022-2023 basketball season, Schilling was already highly decorated having led the Swiftettes to six state championships, however, always having a hunger to win, Schilling and his team had to dig deep through this 2023 playoff run to get his seventh state championship and the program’s prestigious 25th overall.

For Schilling’s effort and his team’s performance, Schilling is the 2023 Press Pass Sports Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.

“I’ve never taken for granted winning a state championship,” said Schilling, who has 363 wins in 12 seasons at Nazareth. “A lot of people always assume we’re just going to go down and win it all. That’s a lot of pressure and winning is one of the hardest things in sports. A lot of things have to right during a season and it’s the players that deserve the credit for the hard work.”

Schilling will remember this UIL Class 1A state championship a little more than others. Unlike most years where the Swiftettes cruised through the playoffs, this Nazareth team had to earn it every step of the way. Nazareth fought through injuries, then had a scare to Valley in the third round, had to grind out a 26-24 win over Claude in the Region I-1A championship, and then come-from-behind to beat Huckabay 30-20 in the state championship game behind the heroics of Presley Wheeler.

“This is a team I’ll never forget,” said Schilling, who’s Nazareth team went 31-9 overall this season. “They showed more growth that had nothing to do with basketball. They just kept coming together and found a common goal. I’ve never been around a team that became as close as this one. That’s what meant a lot. That’s the pride we take in Nazareth. This team came together, the community had full support and it was awesome to see. This was a special year and one I sure won’t forget.”

Photo by Joe Garcia III

Player of Year

Mckenzie Smith, Amarillo High, 6-0, forward, Sr.

Amarillo High’s Mckenzie Smith proved year in and year just how valuable she was to a traditional program like the Lady Sandies.

Smith had a tremendous senior season that stamped her legacy as one of the best to play for the Lady Sandies, and for that reason has been named the 2023 Press Pass Sports Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

“Since the day we got her as a freshman Mckenzie became one of the best communicators,” AHS head coach Jeff Williams said. “Her leadership is a coach’s dream and she does all the little things that makes her so special. She’s an outstanding young woman and I can’t wait to see what she does going forward.”

Smith, A University of North Texas signee, led the Lady Sandies to another tremendous season at 32-5, a District 3-5A championship and though AHS fell in the Class 5A regional quarterfinals, the Lady Sandies and Smith left fans across the state with a memory they’ll never forget in a 5-overtime classic falling just short to Lubbock Monterey in a battle of the top two teams in 5A, 86-78, in front of close to 2,000 fans at a packed house in Littlefied.

“The season sure didn’t end how we wanted,” said Smith, who finished her career with 1,519 points. “But I was so proud of our effort and everything we gave. We showed people a lot in that game.”

Smith was named the District 3-5A MVP for a second year in a row pouring in 16.8 points a game, shooting an eye-popping 62 percent from the field. Smith pulled down 5.8 rebounds with 1.9 steals. She was also named as a TABC All-State selection, making her a two-time All-State player. But for Smith, it was all about just being a great teammate and getting better in the gym day in and day out.

“It’s meant a lot to grow on and off the court,” Smith said. “Coach (Jeff) Williams has loved me and always believed in what I could do. He brings the energy to practice and every day and I tried to match that energy. I was always just wanted to get better. Whether that was getting my shots up in the gym, being a great leader on or off the floor. I just wanted to do whatever I could to make us the best.”

Photo by Joe Garcia III

Newcomer of the Year

Hannon Lankford, Gruver, 5-8, Guard, Soph.

After missing all of her freshman season with an injury, Lankord, the daughter of Gruver girls coach, Trent, made up for lost time as a sophomore. Playing her first full varsity season the sharpshooter became a key weapon for a Lady Hounds team that went 30-6 and played in the UIL Class 2A state championship game. Lankford, the District 1-2A Offensive MVP, averaged 12.4 points a game but what stood out was her incredible 46 percent from beyond the arc. Lankford was also named as a TABC All-Region selection.

First Team 

Photo by Joe Gacia III

Jada Graves, Amarillo High, 5-3, guard, Jr.

Graves helped lead the Amarillo High Lady Sandies to a 32-5 season and a run to the Class 5A regional quarterfinals. The First Team All-District selection as well as TABC All-Region player did her job well on both ends of the floor racking up 10.1 points a game with 4.1 rebounds and averaged two steals a contest.

Photo by Joe Garcia III

Brenna Butler, Gruver, 5-6, Guard, Sr.

The four-year starter leaves as one of the best players to ever wear a Lady Hound uniform. The District 1-2A MVP, and TABC All-State selection, led Gruver to a run to the Class 2A state championship behind her leadership and play on the court. Butler, who will play at Oklahoma State next season, ended her incredible year averaging 14.5 points a game with five rebounds and shot 80 percent from the free-throw line.

Photo by Joe Garcia III

Sadie Sanchez, Randall, 5-4, Guard, Soph. 

Last year’s Press Pass Sports Newcomer of the Year amped her game to another level in 2023. The sophomore sensation can flat out score putting 21.1 points a game, averaging 3.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists. The District 4-4A MVP and TABC All-Region selection shot an impressive 48 percent from the field on the year. Through two seasons, Sanchez has already accumulated 1,267 career points.

Photo by Joe Garcia III

Emma Troxell, Bushland, 5-11, Forward, Sr. 

The Abilene Christian signee and District 1-3A MVP makes the Press Pass Sports Girls Basketball Team for a third straight year. Troxell had another fantastic season leading the Bushland to the Class 3A regional quarterfinal. Troxell ended a stellar senior season campaign averaging a double-double, scoring 17 points with 10 rebounds a contest. Troxell leaves Bushland tallying 1,894 career points with 1,028 rebounds.

Photo by Roy Wheeler

Avery Carter, Tascosa, 6-1, Post, Jr.

Carter came back with a vengeance after missing her entire sophomore year with a leg injury. Making up for lost time, the First Team District 3-5A selection led the Lady Rebels to a 28-6 record and a run to the Class 5A regional quarterfinals. Carter, a TABC All-Region selection, poured in 13.2 points a game, pulling down nine rebounds a night.

Second Team

Presley Wheeler, Nazareth, 5-6, guard, Jr.

Wheeler stepped up on the big stage scoring eight points in the third quarter to beat Huckabay 30-20 to claim the program’s unprecedented 25th UIL state championship. Wheeler, the Class 1A state tournament MVP, finished the season as a leader for the Swiftettes averaging 9.2 points per game with four assists per outing. For her efforts on the year, Wheeler was named the District 4-1A Offensive MVP and a TABC All-Region selection.

Jaylee Moss, Canyon, 5-10, guard, So.

Moss became a big-time weapon on the offensive end of the floor for a Canyon Lady Eagle team that finished the year 30-4 with a run to the Region I-4A championship. Moss was named the District 4-4A Offensive MVP scoring 10.9 points a game, she shot an incredible 49.4 percent from 3-point range and pulled down 3.7 rebounds. Moss was also a TABC All-Region selection.

Abree Winfrey, Canyon, 5-8, guard, Sr.

Canyon’s do-it-all talent Winfrey had an outstanding senior season on the basketball floor that garnered her District 4-4A Defensive MVP honors. The TABC All-State selection did her job night in and night out averaging 2.8 steals per contest, 3.9 assists to go with 4.6 points a game.

Grace Sims, Panhandle, guard, 5-7, Sr.

Sims was one of many talented players on a Panhandle squad that ended the year with a 28-8 record a run to the Region I-2A championship. Sims was named the District 3-2A MVP, as well as a TABC All-State selection scoring 9.7 points per game with four rebounds a contest and 1.8 steals.

Bobbie Renee Foquet, Claude, 5-11, forward, Sr.

Fouqet ended her stellar career as one of the best to ever wear a Lady Stang uniform. The District 2-1A MVP and TABC All-Region selection was the heart and soul of a talented Claude team that advanced to the Region I-1A championship. Foquet ended the year putting up 14.7 points a game, adding seven boards a contest and 3.9 steals.

Honorable mention 

(Class 5A to 1A)

Taytum Bell, Amarillo High, 5-11, Guard, Jr.
Daizjia Oages, Tascosa, 5-4, Guard, Sr.
Ta’Leeyah Glynn, Canyon, 5-4, Guard, Sr.
Sydnee Winfrey, Canyon, 5-10, Forward, Soph.
Ashley Norman, Randall, 5-7, Guard, Sr.
Berlin Bartlett, Pampa, 5-6, Guard, Soph.
Kyndal Blair, Hereford, 5-8, Forward, Jr.
Brooklyn Boyett, Bushland, 5-7, Guard, Jr.
Braylen Lusby, Spearman, 5-9, Guard, Jr.
Jadyn Trusler, Dalhart, 5-8, Guard, Sr.
Adah Henderson, Childress, 6-0, Post, Sr.
Aspen Lomax, Childress, 5-5, Guard, Sr.
Chloe Tiechelman, Childress, 5-6, Guard, Sr.
Cameran Daniel, Childress, 5-7, Guard, Sr.
Karee White, Tulia, 5-10, Post, Sr.
Kimber Whitehead, Gruver, 5-9, Guard, Sr.
Addison Bell, Stratford, 5-9, Forward, Soph.
Cassie McClurg, Highland Park, 5-6, Guard, Sr.
Baylee Gable, Clarendon, 5-4, Guard, Sr.
Makenna Shadle, Clarendon, 5-4, Guard, Sr.
Finley Cunningham, Clarendon, 5-8, Guard, Sr.
Audrey Jones, Wellington, 5-6, Guard, Jr.
Presley Kane, Wellington, 5-6, Guard, Jr.
Briley Waters, Wellington, 5-10, Forward, Jr.
Sydney Adee, Panhandle, 5-5, Guard, Sr.
Avery Cathey, Panhandle, 5-8, Guard, Soph.
Charlie May Trimble, Farwell, 5-11, Forward, Sr.
Makylee Baldwin, Farwell, 5-9, Forward, Soph.
Kasidy Russell, McLean, 5-8, Guard, Soph.
Trinity Schlueter, Valley, 6-1, Post, Soph.
Iris Schilderink, Nazareth, 6-0, Forward, Sr.
Harlie Brabham, San Jacinto Christian, 5-8, Guard, Soph.
Mikee McReynolds, San Jacinto Christian, 5-6, Forward, Soph.

 

 

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