In the center of all the fire of rivalry night, in a boiling OHS Fieldhouse, with the two teams on the floor separated by a single point, and a packed gym hanging in anticipation on every move, a freshman in black lined up her shot.
She fired. It hit, and Permian took the lead.
Moments later, another shot, another one knocked down — and the Lady Panthers were well on their way back east to celebrate.
Freshman Ashton Garner knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers with less than four minutes left to play and the Permian girls basketball team put together a late push to drop rival Odessa High 51-42 on Friday night.
Permian trailed 38-37 in the late stages before Garner knocked down one 3-pointer to put the Lady Panthers in front. Then, after a stop on the other end, Garner drained another 3-pointer to put Permian up by five points at 43-38 with about three minutes to go, and the Lady Panthers pushed their way to a victory, and to a special rivalry win for the team’s seniors.
“It’s real special,” senior Permian guard Alexis Contee said. “All our fans were here to support us. We had to put on a show and show them what we’ve got.”
Before Friday’s meeting, the second-to-last game of their seasons, both Permian and Odessa High had been eliminated from playoff contention, but an onlooker wouldn’t have known it as play pushed up and down the floor and supporters rattled the bleachers on rivalry night.
Permian held a slim 22-19 lead at halftime, and pushed its lead to as big as 11 points in the third quarter, before Odessa High stormed back to the delight of the home crowd, erasing what was a 32-21 deficit with a 14-0 run over the last 4:30 of the third to put the Lady Bronchos up 35-32 going into the fourth.
In the final frame, both teams battled back and forth, with Permian gaining an edge before Odessa High’s Skylar Herrera dropped in a basket to put the Lady Bronchos 38-37 with about four minutes to go.
But that just paved the way for Garner’s two clutch 3-pointers. Holding that five-point lead, Permian’s Artashia Armendariz drove and scored to put Permian up by seven at 47-40 with 1:20 left, and that cushion proved to be enough.
“We knew it was going to be tough here,” Permian head coach Angela Braziel-Smith said, moments after the win. “Odessa High has come a long way, and they played hard from start to finish.
“I knew (the players) would find a way,” she added. “It just took a minute for us to make adjustments, and they made adjustments, played as a team, and got it done.”
The win lifts Permian to 12-15 overall on the season and 2-7 in District 2-6A. Odessa High fell to 5-23, 0-9. The league’s four playoff spots were clinched after Tuesday’s games, with Permian and Odessa High both on the outside looking in, but coaches on both side agreed Friday’s rivalry battle should prove to be a valuable experience for returning players.
“It’s a great atmosphere whenever OHS and Permian play each other. It’s fun to coach in,” Lady Bronchos coach Olivia Pyburn said.
“These young ladies, they played hard. (Permian) just got the better end of the deal in the last few minutes.”
With just one game left on the schedule, Contee said Friday’s rivalry win was especially sweet for her and the Lady Panthers seniors.
“It felt really good,” she smiled.
PERMIAN (12-15 overall, 2-7 District 2-6A)
Klarrissa Cruz 5 2-2 12, Ashton Garner 4 0-2 11, Alena Madero 2 6-8 10, Tay Arnendariz 3 1-2 7, Lex Contee 2 0-1 5, Reyna Rayos 1 0-0 3, Jasmin Gadson 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 9-15 51.
ODESSA HIGH (5-23, 0-9)
Skylar Herrera 7 1-2 15, Abigail Rodriguez 4 2-2 12, Aneth Jimenez 2 0-0 5, Kheeauna Lide 1 1-5 3, Italya Saenz 0 5-7 5, Roxana Jimenez 1 0-1 2, Alexis Luna 0 0-2 0. Totals 15 9-19 42.
Permian……………… 16…. 6 10 19 — 51
Odessa High……….. 15…. 4 16 7 — 42
3-Point goals — Permian 6 (Ashton Garner 3, Reyna Rayos 1, Tay Arnendariz 1, Lex Contee 1), Odessa High 3 (Abigail Rodriguez 2, Aneth Jimenez 1). Total fouls — Permian 18, Odessa High 15. Fouled out — None. Technical fouls — None.