STATE HOOPS: West Texas Winds howl as the Canyon mystique continues

STATE HOOPS: West Texas Winds howl as the Canyon mystique continues
STATE HOOPS: West Texas Winds howl as the Canyon mystique continues (Copyright (c) 2021 VYPE - All rights reserved)

In Texas High School sports, there are just those programs.

Aledo and Katy football, Jack Yates basketball, The Woodlands cross country and then there is Canyon girls' basketball.

Hardin-Jefferson and superstar Ashlon Jackson (27 points) took the Canyon Lady Eagles to the brink of the Class 4A state title game but… Canyon did Canyon things.

Sometimes history is stacked against you.

Canyon (pop. 13,303) is a sleepy suburb of Amarillo – home of West Texas A&M University and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. Small-town America.

But their calling card is really girls' basketball. The Lady Eagles won their 20th state title in program history Thursday, 56-55, in a back-and-forth slugfest of talented teams.

So, let's get to the history lesson… It was all started by Bob Schneider, who coached the girls' team and won five state titles dating back to 1969. He laid the foundation before leaving for the college game and local West Texas A&M, where his legend continued to grow.

His son Brandon, a Canyon alum, continued the legacy and coaches the Kansas University women's team. Candi Whitaker was a legendary hooper at Canyon and played for Texas Tech. She was the head coach for the Red Raiders for six years before taking over the Missouri Western women's program to date.

Ok, worm hole entered with Canyon girls' basketball lore, but you have to know the background, right?

The legend Joe Lombard then really got it rolling, winning 13 state titles at Canyon. Heck, the gym is named after him -- Joe Lombard Gymnasium -- and they never lose there. He retired last year and passed the baton to… none-other-than his son Tate Lombard.

Less than a year later, young Tate hoisted his first state title with the Lady Eagles inside the Alamodome.

So, down four points with 1:58 left in the State Title game with Duke-commit Jackson lighting it up for Hardin-Jefferson… Canyon did Canyon.

"I think it gives your team confidence when our coaches are poised and don't get to high or low," Lombard said. "Just make the next decision for the team and not get too emotional."

It seems like they've been there before... about 19 times.

So, when Kenadee Winfrey and Zoey McBroom hit back-to-back CLUTCH three-pointers to win a nail-biter, it was no surprise.

It was the Canyon mystique. The West Texas winds always seem to blow their way… it's not luck, it's more legend.

"We've grown up in this community as little girls wanting to play for Canyon basketball," title game MVP Chloe Callahan said. "It's the dream when you live out here."

Well, the Wild West Texas town did it again... and they might just be getting started.