Ellison Lady Eagles eight-year head coach Sherry McKinnon kept her promise.
Two weeks ago, after her basketball team upped its District 8-5A record to 10-0, McKinnon said, “I can promise that if our team goes 14-and-0, everyone will see a lot of emotion from me.”
On Tuesday night, moments after a 75-55 road win at Shoemaker High School, the tears were indeed flowing from McKinnon. Her 2014 Lady Eagles had become the first girls basketball team in school history to finish 14-0 in district play.
“To see this group of young ladies go 14-and-0 was quite emotional for me,” McKinnon said. “I felt just like a proud mother, as if all of these girls were my own kids. I’m not much of a crying person, but what they accomplished just touched my heart. So that’s why I was so tearful.”
McKinnon is used to winning. Under her guidance, Ellison made the playoffs the past six seasons. The Lady Eagles won the district title in three of the past four years.
“This year’s team is so special to me
because I know how hard they’ve worked,” McKinnon said. “They’ve listened to everything I’ve asked of them. They’ve listened to everything my assistants have asked of them. They’ve bought into everything we’ve told them. The other reason I was so emotional was because I know making school history meant so much to our supporters. The support from our administration, all the girls’ parents and our fans have been great.”
McKinnon said all 11 players on her roster deserve credit for this 2014 district championship.
“Every kid understands her role,” she said. “That’s vitally important. There are some that play on the court more than others. But, as a coach, it made me very happy to hear some of the kids who didn’t get to play as much say they still understood their role.
“I want every kid to want to play on the court but you can only play so many people, and every girl understood that and accepted it. Every player on our roster put the team first.”
Ellison was ahead of Shoemaker 18-12 after one quarter and 43-28 at halftime. But the contest wasn’t put away until midway through the final frame.
“Going into the game on Tuesday, I told our girls that Shoemaker was not about to hand us this 14-and-0 record,” McKinnon said. “This was Shoemaker’s senior night and I knew that Coach (Lori) Shead would have her girls ready and she did. I had told our girls that beating Shoemaker on their court was the final obstacle to what our girls had wanted to accomplish — going undefeated. It was a big crowd on both sides. Our girls needed to remain focused, and keep thinking about their mission — and that’s what they did.
“I thought we played pretty good ball. And it was especially rewarding to me that I was able to play every single girl in that game, and they each made contributions to the win.”
Ellison (25-7 overall) will travel to Whitney on Tuesday and face South Grand Prairie in the first round of the postseason. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m.
“We’re real excited entering the playoffs and our girls have been working very hard in practice,” McKinnon said.
“We feel like we can compete.”