The biggest girls game in Amarillo ISD this season lacked the drama, if not the intensity, of the first time Amarillo High and Tascosa met in the first round of District 3-5A play.
That’s exactly the way Amarillo High wanted it Friday night at the Tascosa gym.
In a rematch from their first meeting at Amarillo High which Tascosa won, the two teams engaged in what was the de facto district championship game. This time, Amarillo High left no doubt, as the Lady Sandies took a comfortable early lead and coasted to a 48-34 victory.
The win gave No. 8 Amarillo High (29-4, 6-1 in district) a half-game lead over No. 17 Tascosa (24-5, 6-2) with one game left in the regular season. If the Lady Sandies beat Plainview next Tuesday, they’ll be the undisputed district champions.
There wasn’t a lot the Lady Sandies needed to do to get motivated.
“The motivation was don’t get swept and go out and get a district championship,” AHS coach Jeff Williams said. “I felt our kids played extremely hard. We were a lot better on the rebounds and executed late when we needed to, doing some things we hadn’t done in a while.”
Amarillo High seemed determined from the outset to avoid the same result as the first meeting, which Tascosa won 53-50. The Lady Sandies never trailed in the first half and took a 23-10 halftime lead.
All the things Tascosa did right the first time the two teams played were in scant evidence in the first quarter. Amarillo High dominated the boards, giving the Lady Rebels no second chance points early and got the tempo going quickly to take a 16-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Both teams struggled offensively in the second quarter. The Lady Sandies had a tough time at the free throw line, making only 5-of-12 from the stripe in the first half and 3-of-10 in the second quarter.
Amarillo High led by as many as 16 in the second quarter before Tascosa scored the final three points of the half.
“I think defensively (the Lady Sandies) turned up the pressure,” Tascosa coach Chris Sumrall said. “I told the girls they might pressure a little bit more which they didn’t, but they definitely did it more in the halfcourt. I told them at the half, what do you think (the Lady Sandies) have been doing for the last two weeks?”
The game never truly became a rout, as Amarillo High’s biggest lead in the second half was 15 points in the third quarter. However, the Lady Rebels never got any closer than 10 points after the Lady Sandies got the upper hand.
What was the same as the first meeting was that Amarillo High had the same two leading scorers, as Mckenzie Smith had a game-high 14 points and Jada Graves had 13.
“That first time we lost at home so we kind of took that to heart and wanted payback,” Smith said. “This week of practice was really good preparing for the game. We’re always talking about starting off fast. Throughout the week our rebounding drills were the main point of emphasis.”
Daizjia Graves and Avery Carter both had 12 points apiece to lead Tascosa. Carter, an imposing inside force, had 10 points in the second half.
However, Carter wasn’t the force on the offensive boards she was in the first meeting.
“They’re such a good rebounding team and they play with such a high energy,” Williams said of the Lady Rebels. “We weren’t able to get out in transition the way we liked because we were going five in on the boards.
Amarillo High 16 23 37 48
Tascosa 2 10 25 34
AHS– Mckenzie Smith 14, Jada Graves 13. T– Daizjia Graves 12, Avery Carter 12. Records: Amarillo High 29-4, 6-1. Tascosa 24-5, 6-2.