San Saba girls live up to program, family expectations

Amy McDaniel
San Angelo Standard-Times
San Saba High School's Landri Glover (21) fires up a three-point shot in a Class 2A girls basketball playoff game in 2022.

Failures often go hand-in-hand with high expectations, perhaps even more than the hoped-for success.

San Saba High School’s Landri Glover has seen both sides of the coin of the girls basketball success at the Class 2A school. And while the losses have been painful, the senior post is grateful for the journey.

Glover played in four regional finals for the Lady Armadillos and experienced a loss in that round three times before No. 20-ranked San Saba, which has a 31-7 record this year, finally won the Region IV-2A title last week and advanced to the UIL State Tournament.

“It’s been a ride for sure,” said Glover, who leads her team into the Alamodome in San Antonio on Friday, March 4, to square off with No. 1-ranked and undefeated Gruver in the first of two semifinal games. Tipoff is set for 8:30 a.m. and the winner of that game advances to the state championship Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

All told, San Saba lost in five straight regional finals — including three in a row to district rival Mason — before breaking through this year.

Glover was determined not to go home from the Region IV-2A tournament with the same feeling, and it showed as the Lady Dillos raced to a 27-0 first-quarter lead against Normangee last Saturday before the foregone 61-21 conclusion.

“I think it’s almost like an expectation around here, because ever since we were little, we’ve all played together and had success from the third- to eighth-grade,” said Glover, who was the lone freshman on the squad in 2019 and a member of the starting lineup the last three years. “So, it’s been an expectation that, at least, I have put on our teams. But this year, to finally surpass what we have been doing, it felt almost unreal. I’m still really not used to the idea.”

San Saba High School's Landri Glover (21) and Mason's Avery Brooks (14) battle for position on a rebound attempt during a District 29-2A girls basketball game Friday, Jan. 14, 2022 at Mason High School.

Glover assumes team leadership

Glover has not dreamed the expectations, some of which she inherited and some she puts on herself. These were real and very legitimate expectations of success. In 2011, the Lady Dillos qualified for the state tournament for the first time ever, falling to eventual state champ Brock 37-32 in the semifinals.

Glover was in first grade that year, yet to start her journey with her third-grade classmates in competitive basketball. By the time Glover was going into high school, the San Saba program was not in much need of a freshman on the varsity roster, but she found herself playing a key reserve role by district play.

“I was very intimidated at first,” said Glover, the only freshman on the varsity with seniors like district co-MVP Linzey Maxcey, district Defensive Player of the Year Ashlynn Cash and first-team all-district player Brenna Chambers. “I remember getting discouraged at the beginning of the year but Linzey sent me about a paragraph-long text that boosted my spirit and was very encouraging.”

During her sophomore and junior seasons, the 5-foot-11 post moved into the starting lineup and shared team leadership duties but was still not leaned on to continue the San Saba success as were older classmates Kylee Eckermann (class of '20) and Courtnee Cash and Brighton Adams (class of '21).

But as the top returning player for new coach Chris Jost, Glover became a focal point for the Lady Dillos. Jost said Glover has not only embraced that role but helped provide some surprising results for the rest of the team.

San Saba High School's Landri Glover, middle, surpassed the 1,000 career points mark during a District 29-2A girls basketball game Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, at the San Saba gym. Head girls basketball coach Chris Jost, left, and athletic director Andreas Aguirre, right, are also present.

"She’s such a laid-back person so as much as she could break out of her shell, she has," Jost said. "She really does that the most on the court and in practice. If things aren't getting done a certain way, or we're not getting the execution or intensity we need, she has a real fire about it. But at other times, she allows her teammates to also be leaders and step up."

Fellow senior Nojemi Martinez has "blossomed" into Glover's previous role as the go-to inside force allowing Glover to play more on the perimeter, especially against man-to-man defenses. When teams try to play a zone, the 5-10 Martinez and Glover can take over a game, playing high-low posts and dishing the ball to open teammates, Jost said.

"It was strange," playing without her longtime older teammates, Glover said. "But it's been fun. We lost some of our main scorers so we had some people step up and (Nojemi) was one of them. I like being on the court with her. And in practice, we're always on separate teams and I hate that because I don't like guarding her. She pretty much catches any pass you throw at her and can read the defense really well and make the right passes. And then she finishes really well."

Junior guard/forward Lexy Amthor moved into a starting role as well and has been an offensive and defensive leader, Glover said.

When teams have built a game plan around stopping Glover, she has found other ways to take over games, Jost said.

"Several games this year where teams totally keyed on (Glover), she only gets four or six points, but she'll have 10 or 12 rebounds, five or six assists, seven or eight steals and totally dominate a game but she only took four or five shots," Jost said. "She's been pretty balanced throughout the year."

That was seen especially, Jost said, in the two regional tournament games. She had nine points in the dominant first quarter against Normangee, and could have had much more than the 13 she finished with but didn't play the whole game.

"Just her movement and aggressiveness in both games, she really took it to another level," Jost said.

San Saba High School's Logan Glover (21) puts up a shot against the defense of Harper's Derek Perkins (12) during a District 29-2A boys basketball game in San Saba.

Sibling support

In 2020, the San Saba boys grabbed headlines by making it to the state tournament for the first time since 1928. They grabbed them again when they never took the court that year when the rest of the 2020 season was halted and then finally ended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Landri's older brother Logan, who has 18 months on his little sister and was a junior on that 2020 Dillo team, might not know what it was like to actually play in the Alamodome, but he had all the same experiences leading up to the tipoff.

Glover, a 6-4 redshirt freshman for the Angelo State University Rams football team, has made a point of seeing as many of his sister's games as possible.

"It was a tough one on her, but she stepped into that leadership role really well," Logan Glover said. "I like how she’s led and how she’s handled herself."

He has doubled up on workouts and schoolwork this week so he can travel to San Antonio. He's also increased his communication with his sister during district play and in the playoff run.

"I sent her a few messages over the past few weeks, just trying to keep her motivated," he said. "I got to go shoot around at the Alamodome that year even if we never got to play. I tried to soak up every moment and look around at everything. I just told her you won’t get that chance and opportunity again and to remember everything about this trip because it will be her first and last time."

The Glover family could potentially have three children who make it to state. The youngest, Levi, is a freshman and was on the Dillo varsity this year.

It's not the only family tie between that 2020 boys team and this year's girls team. Risien Shahan was a senior for the Dillos in 2020 and his little sister Madison is a junior guard for the Lady Dillos.

The San Saba High School girls basketball team poses with its Region IV-2A championship trophy and banner at the Snake Pit in San Marcos on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022.

Leaving it all on the court

As her career draws to a close, Glover does not plan to continue in basketball at the collegiate level, instead hoping to go into physical therapy, working with athletes or in pediatrics.

But she hopes she has made the kind of impact on her teammates the way her older teammates did.

"I never really thought I was going to be able to play with them," Glover said. "I just remember watching them and thinking they were so cool. Pretty much every time I turned the ball over, I felt like I let down the team, but that usually didn't last that long because they were pretty good about not holding a grudge against me."

In helping the Lady Dillos reach the state tournament, Glover could inspire another group of San Saba youngsters to dream big.

Amy McDaniel is a multimedia sports journalist. Send news tips to amy.mcdaniel@gosanangelo.com. Consider supporting West Texas journalism with a subscription to GoSanAngelo.com.