A lot of conditions had to be considered when the Amarillo High Lady Sandies hosted Lubbock Monterey on Monday night in a what’s becoming an anticipated matchup between highly regarded Class 5A teams.
No. 2 Amarillo High lost to No. 5 Monterey twice last season, including an epic five-overtime defeat in the region quarterfinal. The Lady Sandies had to get some satisfaction out of their 81-31 destruction of the Lady Plainsmen, and there’s little doubt both teams are primed for big seasons perhaps stretching into March.
However, the caveat is that the Lady Plainsmen weren’t dealing with a full deck, and their ace card, Aaliyah Chavez, one of the top underclassmen in the nation, was out with a calf strain. That made a big difference, as Monterey had no continuity offensively.
That didn’t make it any less of a win for Amarillo High (8-2).
“(The Lady Plainsmen) had some key factors gone and that makes a huge difference, however, I felt that every girl who came in and played did a nice job,” AHS coach Jeff Williams said. “We shot the ball really well and that’s a trademark of this team that’s different from last year’s team. We have different strengths.”
Amarillo High shot early and often beyond the 3-point line, and with or without Chavez, the Lady Plainsmen (6-4) seemed powerless to stop it. The Lady Sandies never trailed and hit 13 threes on the night.
Every player who suited up for Amarillo High got in the game, and all but one of 12 players in the scorebook scored as the second half seemed like a formality.
The Lady Sandies came out with a bombs away mentality to open the game. They hit 12 3-pointers in the first half to roar out to a 52-15 halftime lead.
Amarillo High never trailed in the first half and established the tone by jumping out to a 17-2 lead. The first five field goals by the Lady Sandies were threes.
“They were in a 1-3-1 zone early,” Williams said. “In that zone you’re susceptible to threes in the corner and we just took advantage of it. They clogged everything up in the middle. If we weren’t shooting it well it would have been a whole lot closer game.”
Nobody was hotter for the Lady Sandies from beyond the arc than junior Bella Edwards. She outscored the Lady Plainsmen all by herself in the first half, canning seven 3-pointers en route to 23 points.
Edwards finished with a game-high 27 points and signaled her arrival as an offensive force for the Lady Sandies, even though she wasn’t on the varsity last season.
“I would have loved to have played against Aaliyah if she wasn’t hurt, but this has been amazing,” Edwards said. “I was really excited, so I wanted to go off. When I made that first one, I felt really good about the game. Everybody’s a really good player on this team. You can try to stop one player, but you can’t stop all of us.”
Jada Graves was the only other Amarillo High player in double figures with 13 points.
The elephant in the room, of course, was the absence of Chavez, along with starting guard Ambrosia Cole with a possible concussion and 6-foot-4 post Ari Johnson, who was in the last day of concussion protocol. That made the Lady Plainsmen a far different team from the one who beat Amarillo High twice last year, most notably in that 86-78 playoff game last season.
“We’re not the same team we were last year,” Monterey coach Jill Schneider said. “It’s a process and it’s still November. Last year we had to rest Aaliyah because she goes so hard. I really made a mistake I think scheduling this game on a Monday following a five-game tournament over the weekend.”
It would surprise no one should these two teams meet again in February with much bigger stakes. A healthier Monterey would only add intrigue to any rematch.
As far as Williams is concerned, a win is a win.
“It is what it is and I’m happy we came away with a win and with the way we executed,” Williams said.
Monterey didn’t have a single player in double figures, as Zaniyah Wilkerson led the Lady Plainsmen with seven points.
Lubbock Monterey 7 15 22 31
Amarillo High 25 52 68 81
LM– Z. Wilkerson 7, A. Luna 6, J. Halloway 6. AHS– Bella Edwards 27, Jada Graves 13. Records: Monterey 6-4, Amarillo High 8-2.