With time and options winding down in the third quarter Friday, Francesca Patrick took matters into her own hands.
After being harassed at the top of the key as the Ellison offense broke down in front of her, Patrick did the rest on her own, blowing by her defender and letting go of a runner that banked in off the glass to put Ellison up 10 against pesky Copperas Cove heading into the fourth quarter.
In a game in which Ellison needed each of its 48 points — the Lady Eagles won by two — the improvised basket by Patrick was an important example of a play she’d rarely, if ever, have made last season.
But only because there was no need.
“I had a very, very good point guard last year and (Patrick) was the backup, and the other point guard was very good. I didn’t really need her to do that,” Ellison coach Sherry McKinnon said. “But I knew.”
As a junior, Patrick played behind District 8-5A MVP Kenesha Saygo, now playing at Texas Woman’s University. Patrick was largely counted on to provide a defensive presence coming off the bench.
And did she ever, garnering a first-team nod on the All-District 8-5A team, one of just four non-seniors to earn the distinction.
But with Saygo and scorers like guard Deja Pointer graduating, McKinnon began planting the seed as soon as the Lady Eagles’ season ended that Patrick was going to have to do more as a senior.
“I had to change since last year because I just came in for mainly defense,” Patrick said. “But now this year, since some of the scorers left, I kind of had to shift more to the offensive side.”
Along with fellow returnee Jordanna Porter, part of just five players who entered this season with varsity experience for Ellison, Patrick has embraced that challenge, leading the Lady Eagles in scoring on multiple occasions.
“Her getting to the hole and getting through people, that’s her M.O.,” McKinnon said.
“She gets that done. And she doesn’t hardly ever come out in most of the games. And she just goes, she goes.”
Teammates like Porter also enjoy having Patrick leading the way as the two have given Ellison an inside-outside scoring combo, which was on heavy display against Cove as the two combined for 33 points.
“It’s amazing to be honest,” Porter said. “To have a guard that can see the whole floor is nice.
“Most guards will run to the basket on a fast break — they can’t give it to you. But when you’re running on a fast break, she’s throwing it down court. You can get it and y’all can get the easy basket in transition. She sees you cutting and stuff.”
McKinnon can hardly contain her appreciation for the player she has come to love over the past two years.
And why not? Patrick has answered every challenge her coach has posed to her to this point in the season.
“She hasn’t disappointed me yet,” McKinnon said. “I love this kid — I love that kid. She’s awesome.”
And even Patrick is enjoying her new expanded role as a defensive and offensive presence for the Lady Eagles — one that she is playing particularly well.
“I could always score,” Patrick said, “I guess I was just waiting for my opportunity. I’m just doing what I have to do to help the team win.”