In her office, Ellison girls head basketball coach Sherry McKinnon has nearly every noteworthy newspaper clip of her team posted on the wall next to her desk.
Every clip, good and bad.
Sitting in front of that wall, point guard Francesca Patrick points behind her as she begins explaining her own mentality heading into her senior season.
“After last season, that was kind of motivation — this picture,” Patrick said, referring to one of her leaving the floor after the Lady Eagles’ area-round loss to Flower Mound in 2013. “We didn’t want to have a flop year, or since we had so many people graduating, we didn’t want to be the ‘down team’ or the ‘rebuilding team.’ So we tried to build off that momentum to come out stronger and make more history this season.”
After winning a district title as a reserve her junior year, Patrick stepped up and led Ellison to a repeat in the 2013-14 season, only this time the Lady Eagles were unbeaten district champs for the first time.
For her efforts in making school history, Patrick is the Killeen Daily Herald All-Area MVP for 2014.
“She’s meant a whole lot,” McKinnon said. “Her leadership this year and directing traffic and being an extension of the coaching staff was very valuable to this year’s team.”
While the Lady Eagles entered this season as the defending district champions, they did so having lost a stellar senior class, namely 2013 District MVP Kenesha Saygo.
And while the Lady Eagles heard the rumblings from outside the program — whispers that 2014 was going to be a rebuilding year for the district champs — they never paid it any attention.
And rather than worry about how to replace Saygo, Patrick and her teammates took a cue from their graduated leader.
“She was our leader and she pretty much set the tone for the team,” Patrick said. “But we kind of took the heart and fight she had and kept it going on to this year.”
McKinnon said that isn’t all Patrick learned from Saygo, as Patrick evolved from a defensive stalwart to one of the Lady Eagles’ best two-way players.
In addition to being the primary ball-handler for Ellison, Patrick also teamed with junior Jordanna Porter to be a primary scoring option.
Patrick even exceeded the expectations of McKinnon.
“She’s pretty quiet,” McKinnon said. “She’s a real, real smart kid, and she’s real quiet. And I didn’t know if she’d just overanalyze everything. And she didn’t. She just let the game come to her, she saw the court pretty good.”
That helped Ellison do what it had never done under McKinnon before — run the table in district play.
And, of course, Patrick was one of the players leading the way as Ellison, already established under McKinnon, reached for new heights.
“Pretty much,” Patrick said, “once we beat everybody the first time we figured why not? We can do it again.”
Ellison did just that in 2014.
And while Patrick said she hopes this team set the tone for future Lady Eagle teams to reach even higher heights, after helping the Lady Eagles make history this past season, her legacy is already set.