I have been with Monterey all year as far as coverage goes and this team has grown by leaps and bounds over the last four months under the guidance and tutelage of Head Coach Jill Schneider and Coach Carol Foster and I don’t think we have seen their peak performance yet.
With all that said, Monterey is sitting here in the 5A Regional tournament and are now one of the top sixteen teams in the state of Texas in their classification! Some would have seen this coming next year as the Lady Plainsmen will garner some key pieces and bring back Kelly Mora and the number one-ranked guard in the country in Aaliyah Chavez, but the Plainsmen have arrived early to the party, and may be the last ones to leave.
Last year, Monterey finished with a record of 4-20 on the season; a season that was plagued with inexperience and injury. Fast-Forward to 201-2022 and now Monterey is 30-8 on the year and still playing when a lot of favorites to get to the Regional Tournament are gone. Just in the playoff games the Lady Plainsmen have won their three games by at least 20 points with stunning third quarter performances by all the players in each contest.
Let’s talk about Tatiana Trotter and Jazlynn Vaquera for a minute: How about both of these extremely talented softball players in their varsity season making major contributions to their team and still having to travel back-and-forth to play both sports! Tatiana is needed down low and makes clutch shots and defensive stops during crunch time! Jaz is a stud and when hot, will torch opponents from the 3-point line! Vaquera is also a great ball handler and takes a lot of pressure off of Aaliyah Chavez as she stays getting a double, or triple team during the game.
Also, Charli Garland is a major scorer for the Plainsmen along with McKenzie Begaye in the back court. So, what happens now? Let’s preview the Regional Tournament coming Friday:
Monterey has lost to all three teams in the Regional tournament this season: Lake Dallas won in the Caprock Tournament Semifinal by two points, 62-60, Mansfield Timberview won in the Mansfield Tournament, 59-57 and Amarillo won in the Mansfield Tournament against the Lady Plainsmen by a score of 65-37; which happens to be their largest loss this season for Monterey.
Has Monterey made the adjustments to beat two of these teams to get to San Antonio? One thing that is noticed by a lot of us is their defense has picked up! Tatiana and Kelly are becoming a great tandem in the trenches and it’s very hard to score in the post now, as opposed to earlier this season. Also, there is no zone defense as everyone is playing straight up now and running three-point shooters off of the line and making them take two’s now. If I’m going to give up some points, I’d rather it be a two-pointer than a three; it’s just something about a three, or two going in that affects momentum during a game.
All of their adjustments will be tested and will come against teams this weekend that aren’t intimidated by them as they already have a win over them this year. It should be fun and whoever comes out of this Region will have earned it because it’s tough sledding now.
Good Luck to all!