Kenesha Saygo and Deja Pointer remember the disappointment.
After locking up Ellison’s first district title in a decade two years ago, an overconfident Lady Eagles squad suffered an ego-shattering loss to crosstown rival Shoemaker in the regular season finale.
The defeat was just the wake-up call Ellison needed to eventually make a deep playoff run to the Region II-5A semifinals. But to Saygo and Pointer, it was an unnecessary stumble in an otherwise memorable season.
Now, it stands as a reminder to the two senior captains who are now helping lead the 15th-ranked Lady Eagles in staking their claim to the program’s second outright district championship in three years.
Last week, after knocking off Copperas Cove and rallying to edge rival Killeen — and securing at least a share of the District 8-5A title with the Lady Bulldawgs upset of No. 13 Temple — it was Saygo and Pointer who put it all into perspective.
Winners of 14 straight games since a Dec. 21 loss to the Tem-Cats, the Lady Eagles (30-3, 12-1 8-5A) have already tied the previous single-season win record of 30 victories from that memorable 2010-11 squad.
And with a victory Tuesday in the regular-season finale against the Lady Grey Wolves, they’ll not only become outright District 8-5A champions, they’ll also become the single most successful Ellison girls basketball team in school history — an achievement not lost on anyone in green and white.
“They want to leave a legacy as one of the winningest teams in Ellison history,” coach Sherry McKinnon said.
Lady Roos, Tem-Cats stumble down the stretch
They’re both already in the playoffs, but neither the Killeen Lady Roos nor the No. 13th-ranked Temple Tem-Cats want to go into the postseason on their current rolls.
Killeen (17-3, 7-6 8-5A) has lost two straight while the Tem-Cats have two of their last three and maybe a share of the District 8-5A title.
The Lady Roos, who will be the district’s No. 4 playoff seed, already have the daunting task of playing No. 1 Duncanville in the first round of the playoffs. Going into that game on a three-game losing streak is the last thing they want.
However, after a humbling 75-56 loss to Belton a week ago, the Lady Roos rebounded to give No. 15 Ellison all it could handle Friday in the Lady Eagles’ 61-57 win at Killeen.
“The girls definitely played so much better,” Killeen coach Latisha Williams said of the Ellison loss. “But it shows how much just hustle — just hustle by itself — and a little heart and a little belief in each other and intensity makes a world of difference.”
Temple, which has played without 6-foot-4 center Tyesha Taylor for six straight games, wrapped losses to Copperas Cove (53-42 on Friday) and Ellison (67-43 on Jan. 25) around a 57-37 win over Harker Heights last Tuesday.
The Tem-Cats’ loss to Cove dropped them a game behind Ellison in the District 8-5A standings, meaning they would have to beat Killeen and hope for an Ellison loss to Shoemaker on Tuesday just to share the district title with the Lady Eagles.
Hornets are one win away from playoffs
Gatesville possesses something few people believed it would have — control of its own destiny.
In their first year under new head coach Thomas Winkler, the Hornets limped out to a 2-10 start to the season. It appeared the team was in store for a rebuilding campaign, but once the elongated football season concluded, holes were filled and the team took form as players transitioned over to the basketball roster.
The impact was immediate once Gatesville’s full cast of characters was in place. The Hornets are 12-4 since their slow start and, more importantly, are 5-2 in District 8-3A following a 59-41 win at Brownwood on Friday.
Now, with three games remaining in the regular season, Gatesville is one victory away from clinching a playoff berth for a second consecutive season.
But it will not be easy.
Despite playing their final three games at home, the Hornets host No. 13 Liberty Hill (27-3, 6-1), district co-leader Burnet (16-9, 6-1) and Lampasas (18-10, 2-5). The Badgers are the only team capable of spoiling the Hornets’ postseason hopes, but they must win out and have Gatesville lose out to have a shot at reaching the playoffs.
Staff writer Clay Whittington contributed to this report.