HARKER HEIGHTS — Sherry McKinnon loves the games when she can utilize her entire bench.

And it’s been happening a lot lately.

“I love it when we get a big lead and can play those girls,” McKinnon said. “They practice so hard, so it’s nice to get them in.”

All 11 Lady Eagles registered both time and statistics in a 73-52 win over Harker Heights — No. 15 Ellison’s 11th in a row — that clinched a playoff berth.

“There were some things we could have done better, but overall, I’m happy with the way we performed,” McKinnon said. “We need to keep playing well as we get closer to the playoffs — we don’t want to regress.”

The win sets up a Friday night showdown with No. 13 Temple, which routed Belton 42-19 Tuesday to remain unbeaten in district play.

Senior post Kaitlyn Shearer had 17 points and seven rebounds, while sophomore Jordanna Porter chipped in 16 points and three steals and four other Lady Eagles (27-3, 9-1 8-5A) had at least six points in the win.

Despite the lopsided victory, it was Heights that started hot.

After Porter scored the Lady Eagles’ first basket, junior Angela Delaney hit back-to-back buckets and sophomore Alexus Dukes added one of her own as the Lady Knights jumped out 6-2.

McKinnon promptly called timeout and the break cured what was ailing Ellison, as it went on a 15-2 run to end the first quarter.

“The way we won and the 11-game win streak shows how consistent we are as a team,” Shearer said. “I think we can go far.”

But Heights (11-15, 3-7) didn’t back down from the Ellison challenge. Delaney hit her only 3-pointer of the night followed by a three-point play that closed the gap to 19-14 — eight more points from Dukes and the Lady Eagles lead shrank to 26-22 with 1:40 to go in the second quarter.

It was as close as the Lady Knights got the rest of the night as Ellison finished the last minute on a 9-0 run — six by Shearer alone and the lead widened to 35-22 at the half.

“Ellison’s always tough. They were very aggressive and I think that shocked our girls a little bit,” Heights coach Shirretha Nelson said. “That hurt us because we didn’t know what shots to take at the right time.”

Dukes and Delaney finished with 25 and 20 points, respectively. But only two other Lady Knights contributed on the offensive end.

McKinnon said a case of sentimentality was to blame for the lack of focus that allowed the Lady Knights to claw back into the game during the quarter.

“I told my seniors that this would be the last time they would play at Heights. Some of them got a bit choked up — I could see it on their faces,” McKinnon said. “Christonna Jones actually told me that she was holding back tears.”

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