class 5a girls state tournament Amarillo 64, Hightower 53 Lady Hurricanes fall just shy
SAN ANTONIO - It wasn’t that Amarillo shot the 3-pointer well. The Sandies’ 3-pointers kept coming at the right time..
It’s one of the reason the defending Class 5A state champions are headed back to the title game after besting Hightower 64-53 Thursday night at the Alamodome.
Last year’s 5A title game MVP in Amarillo’s Zayla Tinner had 23 points and nine rebounds.
Amarillo was 10-of-27 from the 3-point line compared to Hightower, which was 6-of-22. At the break, Amarillo was shooting 7-of-17 from 3 compared to Hightower’s four total attempts.
One of Amarillo’s crucial 3-pointers came from Ashlyn Milton. It helped negate a late 8-0 Hightower run.
The Lady Hurricanes were led by 6-4 senior post Winnie Kuimi, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Junior guard Taelor Purvis scored 10.
Hightower’s 8-2 lead was a good opening statement.
Kuimi’s layup gave the Lady Hurricanes the early six-point lead and there was a lot of traffic that preclude it, including four Hightower misses and four Hightower offensive rebounds.
Amarillo showed it has been here before, though, with a 9-0 run.
Kuimi’s tip-in stopped the bleeding, but Tatym Barnes’ 3-pointer at the first-period buzzer for a 17-12 Amarillo lead challenged the Lady Hurricanes to respond.
Hightower regained the lead at Sydni Johnson’s 3-pointer for a 27-26 edge with 2:30 left until halftime.
An Amarillo turnover turned into Taelor Purvis’ layup and subsequent free throwwhen she was fouled.
The game was back in Hightower’s hands, but coach Deborah Mize previously mentioned Amarillo’s deadly shooting as one of the Sandies’ strength for a reason.
Ansleigh Westlake and Milton’s 3-pointers were quick answers for Amarillo and the Sandies had another buzzer-beating 3 up their sleeve. This time it came from Tinner for a 35-32 halftime lead.
Amarillo built what was its largest lead of the night at eight off the back of Brook Urban’s 3-pointer. That was capped by a pair of Tinner free throws for a 42-34 Amarillo advantage midway through the third quarter.
It would be expanded on the strength of Westlake’s 3 with 5:53 left in the game and that was supposed to be the dagger until consecutive 3-pointers by Destini Lombard and Kuimi’s 3-point play gave the Lady Hurricanes one more fighting chance.
Milton had one last 3 waiting.
Hightower finished the season 38-3. It was the Lady Hurricanes’ third state tournament appearance with the others coming in 2010 and 2003.