Sherry McKinnon is the eight-year head coach of the Ellison Lady Eagles basketball team. Under her guidance, Ellison has made the playoffs six consecutive seasons. The Lady Eagles have won the district title in two of the past three years. On Tuesday night, host Ellison defeated Harker Heights 72-69 and upped its 2013-14 district record to 10-0, clinching at least a share of the district championship. The Lady Eagles need one win in their last four contests to clinch the outright championship. McKinnon talked with the Herald’s Allan Mandell after Tuesday’s contest.
None of your girls seemed very interested in sharing this title. They said they’d make sure this title was theirs—and theirs alone.
That’s my girls! We’re not very good about sharing things like that. We share when it comes to our own team, like sharing the ball. Our girls have set the goal that they want to go undefeated in district play and make some history for themselves.
It’s OK to be greedy about titles.
Absolutely. Our girls have worked too hard to want to share this title. They want to seal it up and keep this title for themselves.
What did you think was the key to this win tonight?
Our girls had the desire to win. This is a friendly rivalry with Heights. It seems to me Heights gets really pumped up when they play us. So, tonight, our kids had that extra will to win. Making key free throws tonight helped us out a lot, too. We had kids crashing the boards; Jordanna Porter was on the glass a lot and had a double-double (13 rebounds, 21 points).
Jordanna really does so much. She can dribble, she can shoot, she can dish, she crashes the boards, she plays tough defense, and has such great court vision.
Yes, she does do so much for us. She is a three-year varsity player and is my only player with that much experience. My expectations of her are very high. When she’s determined, she gets a lot of things done.
And then there’s your freshman, Madison Hattix-Covington. She had 12 points and hit some clutch free throws in that fourth quarter. You’d think she was a senior.
(Laughing) Yep. She’s coming along. She will be awesome. With regard to those free throws tonight, I was very, very proud of her. She did a great job.
Francesca Patrick and Bri’anna Gray also do so much on the floor for you.
Yes. Francy is our leader out there, she’s our quarterback, directing traffic. Even if she messes something up, she’ll come right back and then do something very good. There were a lot of double-teams on her but she did a lot of good things for us.
Bri started out slow tonight. But she stepped it up when we needed her. Both of them did their part in making sure we didn’t let this win slip away.
Coach, who are some of the other players you’d like to single out for their hustle?
Naomi Burnette is consistently hustling. She averages about six points for us and she’s always hitting the boards. She’s really not that tall (5-foot-9) but she usually has to guard the opponent’s tallest player and Naomi still does a phenomenal job defending.
Arriyanna Forch is another returning player that I’m very proud of. She’s returning strong from a hand injury.
I’m proud of Deja Blanchard coming in and relieving and she had a hard job tonight in trying to contain Heights’ Angela DeLaney, and I’m proud of the job Deja did. Damara Kennedy and Nadia Carter and all the kids that played tonight did real well. And even those kids that I didn’t get to play tonight I’m proud of, too. They understand their role, they want the team to be successful and they still know that they are an important part of our team, no matter what.
Despite clinching a share of the title, your girls walked off the court tonight pretty calm. Will they get more excited once you get that final win and clinch the title outright?
Yes, I think the emotions will fly a little bit more—but not too much more. This is a team that is conservative. I don’t think all the emotions will fly until it’s all over with because they have set their goal as being undefeated.
That will be tough. All four of our next games will be tough.
I do want to add that just as our girls are a team, so are our coaches. Each of my coaches have duties and they each do them well.
Deanna Sullivan helps me on the offensive side and Landon Dyer helps me on the defensive side. They bring a lot of expertise to the table.