Amarillo High girls drop epic 5 OT thriller to No. 1 Lubbock Monterey

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Amarillo High guard Lacey Rice fires a 3-pointer against Lubbock Monterey during a Class 5A regional quarterfinal game at Littlefield on Tuesday. [Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports]
LITTLEFIELD– Basketball games ending in overtime tend to make a lasting memory for fans and players alike.

Five overtime basketball games tend to make jaw drops in awe. Five overtimes is exactly what played out Tuesday night before 1,600 exhausted fans jammed into the Littlefield High Gym witnessing an epic Class 5A regional quarterfinal class between two of the best 5A girls basketball teams in Texas.

In the end, after an unheard of 20 extra minutes of basketball, it was No. 1-ranked Lubbock Monterey surviving over No. 7-ranked Amarillo High 86-78 in a game for the ages.

“I’m speechless,” said AHS coach Jeff Williams, who anybody knowing Jeff knows speechless is five area codes away from his personality. “It’s just a beautiful thing when your kids compete to the end and that’s what they did. It’s a beautiful thing.”

“Never. Never have I seen anything like it,” said Monterey coach Jill Rankin-Schneider, who has seen plenty in her basketball life in 24-years of coaching Monterey, as a player on the Wayland Baptist and Tennessee Final Four teams, as an assistant coach on the University of Texas 1986 national championship team, as a co-captain of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team, and as a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. “Has anybody?”

A short novel could be written with so much happening in this game and high stakes added with a regional tournament berth awarded to the winner and a heartbreaking end to the season for the loser.

Fans pack the Littlefield Gym for the Amarillo High and Lubbock Monterey showdown on Tuesday night. [Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports]
Here’s a summary:

  • The game saw 11 lead changes and 10 ties.
  • Amarillo High seemed to have things in control opening the third quarter with a 19-2 run building a 37-24 lead with 2:48 to play in the third. The run was a share-the-wealth effort as guard Jada Graves scored twice early in the run, then junior Taytum Bell, senior Victoria Barrera and senior McKenzie Smith sent Monterey reeling making consecutive 3-pointers within 91 seconds of each other.
  • The roll call of clutch, gutsy play was long in this one like AHS’ Barrera giving an Oscar performance on playing the shadow of Monterey star Aaliyah Chavez helping hold her to 13 points in regulation, 17 below her incredible 30 point per game average. Add Monterey posts Ari Johnson and Kelly Mora to the list as the pair combined for eight offensive rebounds and put backs hurting AHS time and again near the basket.
  • Monterey did not lead the last 14:16 of the 16-minute second half, but Lady Plainsmen sensational sophomore guard Aaliyah Chavez – already the all-time leading scorer in Monterey history – made a scooping 4-foot basket from the baseline as she was falling down with under three seconds to play ending regulation at 50-50.
  • Overtime one ended at 52-52, overtime two at 56-56, while overtime three and four were heartstopper as AHS’ gritty Lacey Rice swished a 3-pointer from the corner as the buzzer sounded ending the third overtime at 63-63, and Lady Sandie star Smith banked in a three-pointer straight on at the buzzer ending the fourth overtime at 74-74.
  • In overtime five, AHS led 75-74 with 3:12 remaining when Smith scored the final of her incredible game-high 32 points. But when Monterey’s Heaven Limon fed a pass inside to Mora for an easy basket the Lady Plainsmen led for good at 76-75, then ending with a 10-3 run the final 2:44.
    “We told ourselves we have to end it here in the fifth overtime or we don’t serve to win,” Chavez said. “It was definitely amazing out there. There is no other game I’d rather play than basketball.”

Lubbock Monterey highly recruited Division I guard Aaliyah Chavez attempts a 3-pointer. [Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports]
Chavez, Mora and freshman guard Ambrosia Cole (who was strong at the free throw line in overtime)  each led Monterey with 22 points.

Monterey improved to 31-3 stretching its winning streak to 17 games. Monterey coach Rankin-Schneider praised her players after the game for handling their roles, doing a good job of rebounding and simply surviving.

“Right now, the game of basketball is great,” Rankin-Schneider said when asked how good is the game of basketball. “I can’t imagine being on the losing side of this one because both team deserved to win. It’s a shame two teams like us have to meet this early. But that’s 806 basketball.”

Amarillo High’s Lacey Rice makes a 3-pointer to tie the game 63-63 and send the game to a fourth overtime. [Joe Garcia III/ Press Pass Sports]
AHS ends its season 32-5, Williams and his Lady Sandies owning an eye-opening 196-23 record the past six seasons.

“If we were going to win a state championship we would have had to beat them somewhere,” Williams said. “So, it is what it is. Hats off to Jill. That’s a great team.”

What it was Tuesday night was an unforgettable display of Texas high school girls basketball lasting an unimaginable five overtimes.

AHS              8  18  39 50  52  56  63  74  78 
Monterey  13  22  29  50  52  56  63  74 86
AHS- McKenzie Smith 32. LM- Aaliyah Chavez, 22, Kelly Mora 22, Ambrosia Cole 22. Records: Amarillo High 32-5. Lubbock Monterey 31-3.

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