Kenesha Saygo was unapologetically reckless at times. It was never strange to see the Ellison senior point guard peeling herself off the floor after haphazardly hurling her body into the lane to draw contact, only to flail her arms and put up an awkward, off-balance shot at the last second in hopes of an and-one opportunity.
“I’ve always been that type of player since my freshman year … you’ve got to get dirty, you’ve got to play hard, so if it took me risking my body — even breaking a leg or something — I really wouldn’t care,” Saygo said.
Her own well-being aside, it was Saygo’s ability to parlay her reckless, all-or-nothing offensive approach into a team-infusing spark that helped lead the Lady Eagles on a school-record 32-4 campaign and Ellison’s second district championship in the last three seasons.
“Most definitely I felt (the team respond), because they’d look at me like, ‘Are you serious?’ … but then they’d also (get a look) like they wanted to do the same thing,” Saygo said. “That makes someone go harder and get that adrenaline pumping.”
For her leadership, Saygo was selected as the Daily Herald’s All-Area Most Valuable Player after earning the co-MVP nod from District 8-5A along with Killeen senior Jasmine Goodwine.
“It means a lot; it really brings a smile to my face to know that all my hard work and dedication is finally showing and people are also (recognizing) it,” said Saygo, who averaged 12.2 points, 4.1 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game for Ellison.
“Even before the season started, coach (Sherry) McKinnon said my role was to get everybody else involved, make the team look good,” Saygo said. “I didn’t have to score at all, I just wanted to get my team involved and have fun so we can (get) to what we want.”
Shawnte’ Goff, Copperas Cove, sr., guard
In her senior season, Shawnte’ Goff led Cove in points (14.4), assists (3.8) and steals (3.1), while also averaging 5.5 rebounds per game. More importantly, she led the Lady Bulldawgs to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Jasmine Goodwine, Killeen, sr., forward
The 6-foot forward and Rice signee was a District 8-5A co-MVP after leading Killeen to its ninth consecutive postseason appearance. The four-year letterman and four-time all-district selection averaged 19.5 points and 8.9 rebounds a game and is on the All-Area team for the third straight year.
JaQuan Jackson, Harker Heights, sr., guard
The Louisiana Tech signee was named the 8-5A co-Offensive MVP after leading a completely revamped Lady Knights squad with 21.8 points per game and a team-leading 44 percent field-goal shooting.
Deja Pointer, Ellison, sr., guard
The 12-5A newcomer of the year in 2011, Pointer was one of four 8-5A first-team selections for the Lady Eagles after averaging 11.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.3 steals per game.
Kaitlyn Shearer, Ellison, sr., post
The Louisiana-Monroe signee volleyball player was a stable force inside for the Lady Eagles, earning a District 8-5A first-team selection after averaging 9.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and nearly 2 steals per game.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Sherry McKinnon, Ellison
Two years ago, McKinnon led a senior-laden squad to Ellison’s first district championship in a decade and set a school record with 30 wins and a regional semifinal appearance. After a disappointing one-and-done playoff trip last year, McKinnon galvanized the Lady Eagles around an us-against-the-world mentality and the end result was another season for the record books.
Led by an experienced group of seniors seeking to make their own mark, Ellison won its second district championship in three years, going 13-1 in District 8-5A, and once again eclipsed the single-season win record with a 32-4 campaign that ended with a second-round playoff loss to Flower Mound Marcus. But not before the Lady Eagles avenged last season’s playoff loss by beating state-ranked DeSoto 46-44 in the first round.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
Tia Harston, Killeen, fresh., guard
An MVP of some sort ever since earning the Killeen Parks and Recreation sixth-grade MVP honor, Killeen freshman Tia Harston expected to be a vital part of the Lady Roos’ first since in 5A since 2002.
But she didn’t feel completely comfortable in that role until she poured in a game-high 21 points in Killeen’s 52-44 loss to then-16th-ranked Temple on Jan. 11.
“I felt really good that night,” said Harston, the Killeen Daily Herald All-Area Girls Basketball Newcomer of the Year. “I didn’t (do) anything like hold back. I was just doing what I needed to do, being me.
“I just knew I hadn’t been doing what I needed to do. That was just the night for it.”
Also the District 8-5A newcomer of the year, Harston, a 5-foot-7 shooting guard, averaged 8.1 points and 2.3 steals per game and appears to be the heir apparent to Jasmine Goodwine, a senior four-year letterman who signed with Rice in November. Harston averaged 9.8 points in six games after the Temple loss, including a nine-steal performance against Waco Midway, and appears poised to step up as the next big thing in Lady Roos basketball.
“I think we’ll be OK (next season),” Harston said. “As far as me being it again, then I’m going to do what I need to do.”
— Kevin Posival
- KeTara Chapel, sr., forward, Temple
- Angela Delaney, jr., guard. Harker Heights
- Jordanna Porter, soph., post, Ellison
- Tyesha Taylor, jr., post, Temple
- Meredith Ward, sr., post, Salado