Before the 5A state final on Saturday afternoon, Liberty High School girls basketball coach Ross Reedy told his players to "seize the moment and have some fun."
The Redhawks did seize the moment at the Alamodome in San Antonio, and they did have some fun as they pushed Amarillo to the limit in the championship game before losing 47-42. There were some tears as the Redhawks accepted the state runner-up trophy, but also a lot of satisfaction with their memorable playoff run.
Most of the seniors had played together since middle school, and this final season was a fitting conclusion -- even if they would've liked one more victory. Several of them also played as freshmen on the Liberty team that was a state finalist in 2016.
"To play with them all this time and make it this far," guard MaKenzi Glover said, "it's really rewarding."
Glover led Liberty (32-11) with 12 points and Randi Thompson added 10 for the Redhawks. Liberty hung in against back-to-back state champion Amarillo (37-4), playing with the defensive tenacity that has become the Redhawks' standard.
"They have the guts and the mental toughness for that defense," Liberty coach Ross Reedy said of his players, "and also the intellect."
They also have reason to be proud of a memorable season capped by a thrilling playoff run. Liberty finished as the District 9-5A co-champions with Lone Star and won the Region II championship with an overtime victory over Lone Star. In the 5A state semifinal, Liberty ended Kerrville Tivy's 31-game winning streak.
"It's been very exciting to to do this with my teammates," Thompson said. "We've been playing together since seventh grade. It's sad that it had to end this way, but I'm just proud of everyone."