2024 Press Pass Sports Girls Basketball Team


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Graphic by Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports]

The Texas High School basketball season came to a close, and it was a tremendous season for the Texas Panhandle. Here’s a look at the 2024 Press Pass Sports Girls Basketball Team.

Photo by Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports

Coach of Year

Tate Lombard, Canyon 

When tradition and expectations are so intimidating, and experience is relatively lacking, it doesn’t make for the best combination for a long and successful season.

That was the situation facing coach Tate Lombard and the Canyon Lady Eagles entering the 2023-24 season. Mind you, nobody ever thinks any Canyon team is going to slip too far down the state girls basketball totem pole after winning 20 state championships, including one in 2021 in Lombard’s first year as head coach.

Lombard knows there’s a difference between being a good team and a championship team, and closing the gap between the two would be the challenge.

“It was a whole new team so it probably took us most of the season to get us to play the way we wanted us to play,” Lombard said. “That really started taking place the second half of district. The kids bought into everything we were trying to do, it just took a little while. We are always tweaking and trying to find out what’s best, and a lot of things we started off with in the season probably changed during the season.”

Lombard knows that the standard of play at Canyon never changes. He was a Canyon graduate, and in some ways lives in the shadow of his father Joe, who won 14 state championships at Canyon before retiring in 2020.

However, Tate’s no shrinking violet when it comes to winning. Before coming to Canyon as an assistant during Joe’s last season, Tate won two state championships at Wall.

Getting this year’s Canyon team back to the Alamodome in San Antonio for the state tournament, though, was another issue. Starting only one senior, the Lady Eagles weren’t as dominant as some past teams in predistrict play, and they suffered the rare indignity of back-to-back home losses in the championship game of the Tatum Tough Tournament against Tascosa, and in a District 4-4A clash of undefeated teams against Randall, when the Lady Raiders won on a putback shot at the buzzer.

Those would be the last losses Canyon would suffer for 15 games, though. The Lady Raiders swept the rest of their district schedule and rolled through the playoffs before reaching the Class 4A state championship game, where they lost to defending state champion Waco LaVega. That patented late season run earns Lombard the Press Pass Sports 2024 Girls Coach of the Year.

If there was a point of the season where the Lady Eagles took off, it came during the second half of district in a rematch at West Plains, which led by a point at halftime. Canyon hit the gas in the second half and rolled to a 57-30 victory, and started resembling those past Lady Eagles championship teams.

“I don’t know if it was any one thing that happened, but we started playing a lot better offensively,” Lombard said. “I felt like our players started playing to their strengths and were sharing the ball well. It really happened that second half and it was a big milestone going forward because we played that way the rest of the year.”

Despite starting only one senior, Canyon looked like a veteran team down the stretch, and in the rematch with Randall, the Lady Eagles rolled to an 82-52 win and eventually clinched the district championship with a 13-1 mark.

They beat top 10 teams Seminole and Decatur in the playoffs, and in a rematch of the previous year’s Region I-4A final, the Lady Eagles got a measure of revenge by beating Glen Rose 47-37 to reach the state tournament. There, they beat Boerne 53-39 in the state semifinal before falling to LaVega 45-36 in the state title game.

Expectations are high next year considering the Lady Eagles bring back their three leading scorers, 3-point shooting ace Jaylee Moss, Sydnee Winfrey and Kambrie Grasier. Lombard knows what his team faces.

“It’s big for a young team to play the way we did at the end of the year,” Lombard said. “It’s our goal to keep the momentum going. We’ve had meetings with our players and they’re all excited to start now. They’re all fired up.”

Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports

Player of the Year 

Taytum Bell, Amarillo High, 5-foot-11, guard, Sr. 

If Amarillo High girls’ basketball coach Jeff Williams looks out on the floor next year and does a double take searching for No. 12, don’t blame him at all.

For the past three seasons No. 12 on the Amarillo High varsity has been Taytum Bell, a calming influence to Williams who knew something good was going to happen when Bell was on the court.

A timely basket. An unselfish pass to a teammate. A defensive stop against the opponent’s best player. Words of encouragement for a teammate not having their best game.

“Taytum Bell? I’ll probably cry when I see her at graduation,” Williams said in a press conference earlier this year.

For Bell’s excellence on the court she is named the 2024 Press Pass Sports Girls Basketball  Player of the Year.

Bell led AHS to a 35-6 record, the Lady Sandies season ending in overtime to state runner-up Mansfield Summit in the regional semifinals.

Bell averaged per game 14.9 points, six rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.3 steals.

The West Texas A&M signee hauled in several awards the highlights being a shared District 3-5A co-MVP with teammate Jada Graves; named all-state by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches; named all-state by the Texas Girls Coaching Association; and named to the prestigious TABC all-star team.

“Taytum was a three-year starter for us,” Williams said. “During her time at AHS she has not only grown into one of the best players I’ve ever been around, she has blossomed into a leader. Her maturity as a player is second to none. Taytum’s favorite thing to do was set up a teammate for an easy score. She is the best I’ve coached at seeing a girl open and making the pass before she was actually open for the easy basket. What elevated her as a player this season is she also knew we needed her to score, and she did that for us. Being more of a balanced type threat is one of the main reasons we were able to function so well this year offensively. We will miss her dearly but are so excited to be able to see her flourish just down the road at WT next season.

Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports 

Newcomer of the Year 

Kambrie Graser, Canyon, 5-11, forward, Soph.

The emergence of Graser late in the season was a major factor in Canyon’s run to the Class 4A state championship game. She became a fixture in the starting lineup. averaging 8.1 points a game and giving the Lady Eagles an extra scoring option up front. Graser was the District 4-4A Newcomer of the Year in helping lead Canyon to the district championship. She was second on the Lady Eagles with 4.5 rebounds a game. Graser was also named to the Texas Girls Coaches Association 4A All-State team.

Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports

Fighting Heart Award

Reese Cruse, Valley, 5-foot-9, forward, Sr. 

Awarding the Fighting Heart to the sharp shooting Cruse may be the easiest part of putting this team together.

The Lady Patriot captain tore her left ACL in May 2021 and worked fervently to get back on the court by the middle of her sophomore year.  Valley made the regional finals that year with Cruse a big piece of that success.

With the injury in her rear-view mirror, the talented forward was in the middle of her junior season when she went down with another ACL injury on the right knee this time on an innocent looking play against Canadian.

It would have been easy for many players to decide basketball just wasn’t in the cards, but Cruse defied those odds.

Going through the rehab process a second time, Cruse refused to be done on the hardwood and found her way back in time for her senior season.  That work ethic made her final year one to be remembered.

Sporting one of the best mid-range jumpers in the Texas Panhandle, the Hardin-Simmons signee put up 15.4 points, grabbing over six rebounds, two assists and three steals per game to help Valley to the state tournament for the first time in 14 years.

Her scoring ability was on full display in the UIL state championship game against Newcastle as she scored 14 of the 15 first-half points and finished with 18 points in the finals.

That output earned her a spot on the UIL Class 1A state tournament team and helped her garner TABC and TSMCA All-State nods as well.

First Team 

Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports

Jada Graves, Amarillo High, 5-foot-3, guard, Sr. 

If a commercial was made promoting big things come in small packages, Jada Graves would have to be the star. The five-foot, three-inch senior guard was a key cog in AHS finishing with a 35-6 record and reaching the regional semifinals.

Graves not only is an excellent defender and passer, but she’s also a dynamo on offense averaging 13.3 points per game and making 42 percent of 3-pointers. Graves was named co-District 3-5A player of the year and put on a show in the highlight girls playoff game of the year in this area scoring 31 points against Lubbock Monterey before a sold out Hutcherson Center in Plainview. Graves has signed with New Mexico Junior College.

Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports

Jaylee Moss, Canyon, 5-11, forward, Jr.

In Canyon’s run to the UIL Class 4A title game, the Lady Eagles came to life offensively late in the season, and Moss was a huge reason why. Moss led Canyon with 15.3 points a game and was a threat from 3-point range, shooting an astonishing 50 percent from beyond the arc. She was named the 4-4A MVP in leading the Lady Eagles to the district championship and was also a Texas Girls Coaches Association All-State selection.

Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports

Sadie Sanchez, Randall, 5-5, guard, Jr.

Sanchez makes her third straight appearance on the Press Pass Girls Basketball Team. Two years ago, she was the Newcomer of the Year and for a second year in a row she lands as a First Team selection.

Sanchez has been arguably the best player in the Texas Panhandle inch-for-inch, and she proved that this season. Sanchez again carried the Lady Raiders offensively, averaging 26.9 points a game and was deadly from 3-point range, averaging 5.3 3-pointers a game with outrageous shooting range. For the second straight year, Sanchez led Randall to the Region I-4A tournament.

Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports

Braylen Lusby, Spearman, 5-foot-9, forward, Sr. 

The four-year starter and the heart and soul of the Lynxettes had a tremendous senior season and put Spearman back in the conversation when it comes to girls’ basketball in the Texas Panhandle.

Lusby helped lead Spearman to a District 1-3A championship and a third-round appearance in the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. The do-it-all senior ended her fantastic year averaging a double-double scoring 15 points a game, pulling down 10 boards a night and averaging two steals. Lusby was the District 1-3A MVP and a TABC Class 3A All-State selection.

Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports

Avery Carter, Tascosa, 6-foot-1, post, Sr. 

The newest member to the West Texas A&M Lady Buff roster makes her way as a First Team selection for a second year in a row. Carter was the captain of the Lady Rebels and helped Tascosa get to the regional tournament in six years. Carter ended her stellar senior season posting 15.1 points a night with 8.7 rebounds and averaged 1.5 blocks a game. Carter was named as a TABC All-State selection.

Second Team 

Presley Kane, Wellington, 5-Foot-6, guard, Sr.

Kane and a loaded group of seniors left their mark by getting the Wellington Lady Skyrockets to the UIL state tournament for the first time in school history. Kane, the little sister of former Wellington standout and West Texas A&M Lady Buff, Kyla, made her own name as a senior averaging 10.8 points a game with 3.4 assists and 2.7 steals. Kane was named as a TABC All-State selection.

Dane’ja Agu-White, West Plains, 5-foot-3, guard, Jr.

The lighting quick guard took a huge step as a junior and made coach Kevin Richardson’s team much improved in 2024. Agu-White was the glue that kept West Plains together and helped the Lady Wolves reach the third round of the Class 4A playoffs in just their second year. Agu-White ended her year as a TABC All-Region selection scoring 17.5 points a game with three assists and three steals.

Bella Edwards, Amarillo High, 5-foot-8, guard, Jr. 

Just two years removed as a home-schooled player, Bella Edwards – fair, or not – was off the radar of most Texas high school girls’ basketball fans.

Edwards showed she could flat outshoot it becoming one of the top outside threats of all classes in Texas with her elite 3-point scoring prowess. Edwards helped AHS to a 35-6 record and regional semifinal finish scoring 14.4 points per game making 43 percent of her 3-pointers attempted. Edwards season-high for 3-pointers was eight in one game and finished the year with 123 made treys (3.5 per game). No doubt, Edwards will be on everybody’s radar during her senior season at AHS.

Sydnee Winfrey, Canyon, 5-11, forward, Jr.

Winfrey emerged as another go-to underclassman offensively for Canyon this season, as the second-leading scorer for the Lady Eagles with 9.3 points a game. She was also a tough defender, averaging a team-leading 5.9 rebounds a game for the state semifinalists, and was a TGCA All-State selection.

Trinity Schlueter, Valley, 6-1, post, Jr.

Leading the charge for the top team in Class 1A for most of the year, Schlueter earned TABC and TSMCA All-State honors while averaging 17.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 2.3 blocks per game.  The Lady Patriot, who was money from inside 10-feet, also earned All-State Tournament honors while helping lead her Lady Patriot team to the UIL Class 1A state championship game.

Sixth-man honor 

Brenna Francis, Silverton, 5-9, guard, Sr.

A three-time state medal winner in track and field is how most know this talented Lady Owl. However, Francis is just as talented on the hardwood. Silverton’s standout averaged 15.3 points per game to go with six boards, four assists and five steals while eclipsing the 1,000-point mark in her career. She was the Co-District MVP of District 2-1A, which was the home of state finalist Valley, along with being tabbed TABC All-State in Class 1A.

Honorable mention 

(Class 5A to 1A)

Aniyah Brackens, Tascosa, 5-10, post, Sr.
Deveah Johnson, Tascosa, 5-8, guard, Soph.
Tai Wright, Canyon, 5-8, guard, Sr.
Illiana Hernandez, Canyon, 5-4, guard, Sr.
Layla Romero, Randall, 5-9, guard, Jr.
Piper Patterson, West Plains, 5-7, guard, Jr.
Aaniyah Kitchen, West Plains, 6-0, post, Soph.
Berlin Bartlett, Pampa, 5-4, guard, Jr.
Lexi Klafka, Spearman, 5-9, guard, Sr.
Kylie Cavalier, Canadian, 5-7, guard, Soph.
Evelyn Quiroz, Dalhart, 5-5, guard, Jr.
Joie Read, Dalhart, 5-6, forward, Fr.
Brooklyn Boyett, Bushland, 5-6, guard, Sr.
Addison Bell, Stratford, 5-8, forward, Jr.
Brooklyn Vasquez, Gruver, 5-9, forward, Sr.
Aletha Usanga, Boys Ranch, 5-7, guard, Sr.
Charley Wilbur, Wellington, 5-8, guard, Sr.
Briley Waters, Wellington, 5-10, guard Sr.
Audrey Jones, Wellington, 5-10, post, Sr.
Kenidee Hayes, Clarendon, 5-4, guard, Soph.
Kate Shaw, Clarendon, 6-0, post, Soph.
Landri Richey, Farwell, 5-9, guard, Jr.
Avery Cathey, Panhandle, 5-8, guard, Jr.
Kasidy Russell, McLean, 5-7, guard, Jr.
Hailo Moon, McLean, 6-2, post, Soph.
Anayah Salinas, McLean, 5-4, guard, Sr.
Laney Edwards, Valley, 5-8, guard, Sr.
Kilee Lynn, Silverton, 5-4, guard, Sr.
Maddie Francis, Silverton, 5-11, post, Soph.
Jada Clay, Texline, 5-4, guard, Fr.
Jovi Perkins, Wildorado, 5-6, guard, Sr.
Brooklyn Birkenfield, Nazareth, 5-11, post, Jr.
Harley Gerber, Nazareth, 5-6, guard, Sr.
Harlie Brabham, San Jacinto Christian, 5-9, guard, Jr.
Kristi Gage, San Jacinto Christian, 5-3, guard, Sr.


Lance Lahnert
Lee Passmore
Craig Sperry
Kale Steed

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