GARLAND – In a matter of seconds, the Allen girls basketball team’s season went from finished to historic.
Thanks to a buzzer-beating, backboard-utilizing bucket from senior Cydni Adams, the No. 16 Lady Eagles earned a 50-49 victory in a raucous regional quarterfinal matchup with No. 5 Sachse and advanced to the program’s first-ever regional tournament.
“It’s the senior dream. Now we’re making history,” Adams said. “I can’t ask for anything else. I’m so happy. … I just trusted my gut and trusted my muscle memory and let it fly.”
As the clock inside the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland wound toward midnight for the Lady Eagles, who defeated Sachse twice during the regular season, Sachse senior Avery Crouse appeared to put the finishing touches on the Lady Mustangs' redemption effort.
Crouse laid one in with just over 11 seconds to play, putting the Lady Mustangs on top, 49-48.
Then, after a miss from junior Tyler Jackson at the other end seemingly spelled doom, the rebound fell squarely to Adams in the paint. The senior put home her only score of the game, sending Sachse home and the Allen bench into hysterics.
“We knew they wouldn’t quit. I felt like if we wouldn’t have had so many turnovers and [had] hit some layups, things could have been different, but their kids never quit,” said Teresa Durham, Allen head coach. “They just talked about wanting to leave a legacy and competing. … It was ugly, but we found a way. Right now, that’s all that matters.”
On Sachse’s end, head coach Donna McCullough said she felt her program did a good job of executing its game plan of limiting Allen star senior Nyah Green, though she admitted that Jackson stepping in to fill a scoring role was no surprise.
Though the eventual result was heartbreak, she said she’s proud of her team’s effort and the legacy her senior class, which helped the Lady Mustangs reach the state tournament last season, will leave behind.
“My kids, I thought, played as hard as they could,” she said. “I’m really proud of my team. I think they play as hard as they can all the time. They find a way to win, and my seniors have been an unbelievable class of kids that have come through this program and set the bar very, very high for anybody else that’s going to follow them.”
Jackson led all scorers on the night, tallying 19 in the Lady Eagles’ winning effort. Just behind her was Green, who recorded 13.
Getting big contributions from each, Durham said, is a boost for her club, though she expects others to find their game as the postseason continues to roll along.
“We have a couple of other kids that, tonight, didn’t get in the mix, and I think they will,” she said. “I think this team is just hitting its stride. … We’ve got a lot of weapons. If we can get them all firing at the right time, it’s exciting.”
Sachse was paced by junior Adhel Tac, who finished just shy of Jackson’s game-high effort with 18 points of her own. The Lady Mustangs were balanced underneath the junior, getting nine-point nights from junior Jayla Brooks and seniors Crouse and Kayla Demus.
Though the season came to an abrupt end for the Lady Mustangs, McCullough is optimistic about the direction of her program.
“I’m losing some great kids this year that were enormous for our program, but I’ve got Adhel back and Jayla back and [junior Tia Harvey] back and [sophomore Elizabeth Woods], who comes off the bench and is my [6-foot-2] post, she’s back,” she said. “Hopefully, we can build it back up and make a run again next year.”
While the Lady Eagles have never advanced past the regional quarterfinals, Durham said she’s confident her team’s success Tuesday has instilled a level of confidence in her players that could overshadow the magnitude of the moments to come.
“None of these kids have been there before and played on a big stage, so it’s [about] getting them to understand that they can win big games,” she said. “With our district, we’ve done it all year long. … To me, I think this just helps build their confidence.”
Allen will take on Pflugerville Hendrickson at 8 p.m. Friday at the Ellis Davis Field House in Dallas.
“It’s a tremendous team but, again, find a way. ‘A Up’ and find a way, and that’s what we did,” Durham said. “I’m excited, and I think they are, too.”
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