Ellison girls basketball coach Sherry McKinnon saw it during offseason workouts last season following their first-round playoff to DeSoto: This group of Lady Eagles was special.
Being overlooked by media outlets locally and around the state, the Lady Eagles reminded their coach of another group.
“I’ve learned how to use that to our team’s advantage, to be the underdog and teach the girls that they have to fight for what they want,” McKinnon said. “This team, here, ... they have a desire to be respected.”
Like the 2010-11 team that was picked to finish fourth in District 12-5A and ended up winning the district championship, setting the school record for wins in a season (30) and reaching the regional semifinals, the 2012-13 Ellison Lady Eagles were, indeed, special.
Senior Kenesha Saygo shared the District 8-5A MVP honor with Killeen’s Jasmine Goodwine and Deja Pointer, the 12-5A newcomer of the year in 2011, was one of four Lady Eagles’ first-team selections on the 8-5A all-district list released Monday.
Copperas Cove senior Shawnte’ Goff and Harker Heights senior JaQuan Jackson were the district’s co-offensive players of the year; Temple junior post Tyesha Taylor was the defensive player of the year and Killeen freshman Tia Harston was the newcomer of the year.
Picked to finish somewhere behind Harker Heights and Temple in the preseason, Ellison won its second district championship in three years, finished 32-4 overall after a second-round playoff loss to Flower Mound Marcus on Tuesday — setting another record for wins in a season — and avenged last season’s playoff loss by beating state-ranked DeSoto 46-44 in the first round last week.
“I could tell from their commitment in the offseason and the things they were doing in the offseason ... that they were a pretty special group, they were very committed, very coachable group of young ladies,” said McKinnon, the 8-5A coach of the year, “but to imagine that we would be district champions and they would make history by breaking the (wins) record that was set two years ago is just amazing.”
Goodwine and Harston headlined Killeen’s first season in 5A since 2002 by leading the Lady Roos (18-14) to their ninth consecutive playoff appearance. Goodwine, who’s been on varsity since she was a freshman, signed with Rice in November and played her biggest down the stretch.
“Especially in the second round (of district), I really thought she came alive,” Killeen coach Latisha Williams said of Goodwine. “And not just scoring, but being a leader for the team. I think she really started to stand out as a player that the other coaches wouldn’t mind having on their team. I was hoping she would get that, but it was great to see other coaches definitely put her in (as MVP).”
Goff, who didn’t play basketball last season as a junior, exploded this year to lead the Lady Dawgs (24-10) to their first playoff appearance since 2010 and nearly a first-round playoff win.
“It seemed like Shawnte’ was one of those kids that could come up when we really needed a bucket or when we needed a momentum change,” said Copperas Cove coach Teresa Durham. “She just made things happen. Her nature isn’t necessarily to be that scorer — she likes to assist and to help create things for other kids — and I think that’s a double-prong (attack) for us because she can score, but yet she also involves everyone else and it helped create offense for other kids as well.”
Jackson, who signed with Louisiana Tech, carried the torch well for the Lady Knights despite the team’s frustrations this season.
After winning its first District 12-5A championship and finishing 35-2 overall last season, the Lady Knights (11-19) lost senior post Brianna Freeman, who signed with New Mexico, for the year following back-to-back knee injuries during the offseason and, despite Jackson’s efforts, never recovered.
“I got it (12-5A co-MVP) last year; I wasn’t expecting it this year because of the injuries — I’ve been out so long. I didn’t think I was going to get nothing, really. So it’s kind of amazing and I was very shocked. I felt like I just wanted to cry,” said Jackson, who set a school record with her 46-point performance in a 69-64 loss to Copperas Cove.
“I’m satisfied with beating my own record and doing all I can for the team. It’s just, we didn’t get where we were supposed to go.”
Temple, which was one two teams to beat Harker Heights last season, got a taste of the Lady Knights’ struggles when the Tem-Cats (26-9) lost Taylor, the 6-foot-4, highly-recruited junior, late in the season.
Taylor missed the final eight games of the season with a knee injury and Temple lost four of its last five games to end the season, including its first-round playoff loss to Mansfield Timberview.
Sophomore Mikayla Blount, senior Jasmin Johnson and junior Bryaunea Hall were all first-team selections for Copperas Cove. Ellison seniors Pointer and Kaitlyn Shearer and junior Francesca Patrick also made the first team. Senior Cion Hicks was Shoemaker’s lone representative on the first team while Temple had three seniors on the team: Ketara Chapel, Alyssa Jones and Rykeya Johnson.
8-5A GIRLS ALL-DISTRICT TEAM
Co-MVPs—Kenesha Saygo, Sr. Ellison; Jasmine Goodwine, Sr. Killeen
Defensive player of the year—Tyesha Taylor, Jr., Temple
Co-Offensive players of the year—Shawnte’ Goff, Sr., Copperas Cove; JaQuan Jackson, Sr., Harker Heights
Newcomer of the year—Tia Harston, Fr., Killeen
Coach of the year—Sherry McKinnon, Ellison
Mikayla Blount, So., Copperas Cove; Jasmin Johnson, Sr., Copperas Cove; Bryaunea Hall, Jr., Copperas Cove; Deja Pointer, Sr, Ellison; Kaitlyn Shearer, Sr., Ellison; Francesca Patrick, Jr., Ellison; Esha Atkins, Sr., Killeen; Cion Hicks, Sr., Shoemaker; Ketara Chapel, Sr., Temple; Alyssa Jones, Sr., Temple; Rykeya Johnson, Sr., Temple; Odision Miles, Fr., Waco Midway.
Emily Hugo, Jr., Belton; Briana Ragland, Sr., Belton; Stephanie Cochran, Sr., Copperas Cove; Brittany Gamble, Jr., Copperas Cove; Codi Simmons, Sr., Ellison; Jordanna Porter, So., Ellison; Angela Delaney, Jr., Harker Heights; Alexis Dukes, So., Harker Heights; Johlicia Williams, Sr., Killeen; Ashley Ousley, Sr., Shoemaker; Briana Gatson, Sr., Shoemaker; Jazzmen Ortiz, Jr., Temple; Mikeal Wilder, Sr., Waco Midway; Shelby Stidham, Sr., Waco Midway.
Olivia Warehime, Sr., Belton; Kinsey Williams, Jr., Belton; Tateyana Harris, Jr., Copperas Cove; Brianna Gray, So., Ellison; Christonna Jones, Sr., Ellison; Naomi Burnette, Fr., Ellison; Arriyanna Forch, Sr. Ellison; Xstazjha Stevens-Hicks, Sr., Ellison; Lauren Finley, Sr., Harker Heights; Ghiniva Phillips, Jr., Killeen; Raven Ringo, So., Killeen; Laderrica Degrate, Sr., Killeen; Ashley Lemons, Jr., Shoemaker; Jonette Jackson, Jr., Shoemaker; Daysha Roberts, Jr., Shoemaker; Deja Williams, Jr., Temple; Alexis Garcia, Jr., Temple; Taija Hall, Jr., Temple; Ariel Walker, Sr., Waco Midway.
CORRECTION: Killeen senior Esha Atkins was omitted from the All-District 8-5A girls basketball team list released to the media Monday. Atkins was added to the all-district first team on Tuesday.