JACKSBORO – Just like that Ashely Reid of Wichita Falls Rider became the answer to a trivia question.
Who scored the final basket in a game coached by Leta Andrews?
Reid’s layup with seven seconds remaining provided the winning points as Wichita Falls Rider defeated the Granbury Lady Pirates 40-39 in their Class 4A Region I area basketball playoff game at Jacksboro High School.
After the game, Andrews announced her retirement after more than five decades of coaching and 1,416 victories – more than any other basketball coach in history.
“I’m 76 years old, and it’s been a fantastic 51 years,” said Andrews. “I am very blessed to have been able to do something I absolutely love for this long, to be able to look forward to going to work every single day.”
Andrews led 14 teams to the state tournament, including her beloved Lady Pirates in 1978 during her first of two tenures coaching here. She won a state championship in 1990 with Corpus Christi Calallen.
While it didn’t end with a victory, her career did end with a very exciting contest. The Lady Pirates (19-13) came with a hair of upsetting state-ranked (21st) Rider (27-6) for a second consecutive season.
Amber Strange got a steal for the Lady Pirates with 31 seconds left. That led to Caroline Forrest’s short jumper for a 39-38 lead with 19 seconds to play.
Then, with time running out, Reid found a seam in the Lady Pirate defense that had been virtually impenetrable for the second half.
“We let up a wee bit on defense, and they took advantage,” said Andrews. “All it takes is that split second for a really good team like that.
“But our girls fought with every bit of heart they have. I had to chew on them at the half, with us being down 10 (25-15), but we fought back and I thought ‘Thunder, we’re going to win this thing.’”
Andrews called back-to-back timeouts following Reid’s basket to set up a final shot. The Lady Pirates got it off, but it was to no avail as the season and Andrews’ career ended.
“The toughest games are the ones where you lose by one or two, but I’d rather go out like this than getting blown out,” said Morgan Northcutt, the lone senior on the squad who also led Granbury with 10 points.
“I wouldn’t trade my time as a Lady Pirate for anything. There are so many memories.”
In her senior season Northcutt set the team record for consecutive free throws made (57), had a career-high 35 points, and hit nine 3-pointers in a game, one shy of the school record.
The Lady Pirates led 7-4 after the opening quarter, holding Rider without a field goal. The Lady Raiders stormed back in the second for a 25-15 halftime lead, finishing the first half with an 11-2 run.
Granbury battled back, outscoring Rider 22-11 over a 13:34 span in the second, taking a 37-36 lead on Strange’s basket with 2:26 left in the game.
“Of course I wish we could have won, but I’m so glad the girls kept this one exciting,” said Andrews. “They grew up so much in the past few games, having very little experience.
“This is really heartwarming, and whoever comes along next is getting a pretty good bunch of girls.”
The Lady Pirates will return four starters next season. Strange is a freshman, while Forrest, Kennedy Shelstead and Bryce Frank are all juniors.
“I think next year they are going to be great. I’m excited to come back and watch them,” said Northcutt.
“It’s going to be different, though, not seeing coach Andrews on the bench.”
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Class 4A Region I Area Playoff
at Jacksboro High School
Granbury 7 8 15 9 – 39
WF Rider 4 21 8 7 – 40
Granbury (19-13) scoring – Morgan Northcutt 10, Caroline Forrest 8, Amber Strange 8, Bryce Frank 6, Erin Jones 5, Whitley Tipton 2.
Rider (27-6) scoring – Ashely Reid 17, Mercedes Brooks 10, Abreanna Harrison 8, Emily Shaver 3, Skye Catletti 2.
3-pointers – Granbury: Northcutt 2, Jones 1, Forrest 1. Rider: Reid 1, Brooks 1, Shaver 1, Harrison `.
Rebound leaders – Granbury: Frank 10. Rider: Harrison 9.
Assist leaders – Granbury: Jones 3. Rider Catletti 3.
Steal leaders – Granbury: Strange 3. Rider Catletti 3.
Block leaders – Granbury: Shelstead 1, Forrest 1.
2-point FG – Granbury 10-30 (33 percent). Rider 8-30 (27 percent).
3-point FG – Granbury 4-9 (44 percent). Rider 4-12 (33 percent).
Free throws – Granbury 7-13 (54 percent). Rider 12-20 (60 percent).
Total rebounds – Granbury 28 (5 offensive). Rider 29 (10 offensive).
Total assists – Granbury 7. Rider 4.
Total steals – Granbury 5. Rider 4.
Total blocks – Granbury 2. Rider 0.
Turnovers – Granbury 17. Rider 14.