WACO — Kenesha Saygo released the buzzer-beating runner and watched as the ball slowly circled the rim before falling in with zeros on the game clock.
But instead of leaping into the arms of one of her Ellison teammates, the senior guard turned and stared blankly toward a dejected Lady Eagles bench as No. 11 Ellison unceremoniously fell 47-35 to unranked Flower Mound Marcus in their Class 5A area-round playoff game Friday night at Waco High School.
“It wasn’t good enough,” Saygo said. “We should have started from the start. I looked at my team like, ‘It’s over.’”
A season with so much promise, that saw a senior-laden Lady Eagles squad break the program’s single-season win record en route to locking up a second outright district title in three years and knock off state-ranked bi-district nemesis DeSoto on Tuesday, ended with little more than a whimper Friday.
“I feel like the team that was hungry tonight, that wanted it more, won — not the best team,” Ellison coach Sherry McKinnon said.
“We started out flat, we didn’t seem to have any sense of urgency, and we talked about it, (but) we were just flat from the tip-off until about midway through the fourth quarter. And then it was a little too later for us.”
Flower Mound Marcus, on the other hand, came out firing, as junior Morgan Easley hit a three-point play and Vanessa Jones nailed a 3-pointer on their first two offensive possessions.
Ellison (32-4) responded as Francesca Patrick hit a coast-to-coast fastbreak and Jordanna Porter scored on back-to-back possessions to tie it at 6-6 at the 4:05 mark of the opening quarter.
Patrick nailed a 3-pointer two minutes later to give the Lady Eagles a 11-10 lead — their first and only one of the game — but Jones hit the back end of a pair of free throws on the ensuing possession and then Sierra Bone put back a Jones miss with 14 seconds left to give the Lady Marauders (29-7) a 13-11 lead entering the second.
Ellison missed its first seven shot attempts of the second quarter before senior guard Deja Pointer nailed a 3 to pull within 16-14 with 3:23 left before halftime.
But that was the only made bucket for the Lady Eagles as Marcus closed out the first half on a 5-0 run to lead 21-14 at the break
“That was the longest second quarter I think I’ve coached all year because it was like we weren’t moving,” McKinnon said. “And then when we were it wasn’t going in. It just didn’t happen (for us) tonight.”
For the game, Ellison made just 11-of-50 (22 percent) from the field, 6-of-39 (15.4 percent) from the second quarter on. That included a 1-of-10 showing in the second quarter as Marcus slowly started to pull away.
“I just think we were just throwing it up there, we weren’t setting our feet and taking good shots like we usually do,” said Saygo, who finished with just four points, all in the fourth quarter having sat out the entire second quarter with a pair of charging fouls in the first.
“We were rushing a lot. ... I just feel we were throwing it up there not caring where we shot from, and that really hurt us tonight.”
Pointer led with nine points, six coming in the fourth quarter as Ellison fought to make it a game after Marcus pulled ahead 35-20 with 5:56 left in the game. Ellison junior guard Francesca Patrick added eight points and six rebounds. It was on the boards where Marcus found its advantage, as the Lady Marauders outrebounded Ellison 8-2 in the third quarter alone as an Easley 3-pointer 20 seconds into the frame gave them their first double-digit lead of the game, 24-14.
Another quick 3, this time from Jones (game-high 13 points) plated Marcus a 32-20 lead 18 seconds into the fourth.
Ellison finally found its scoring touch, scoring 15 points over the game’s final 5½ minutes. But it came 26½ minutes too late.
“What we did tonight is not a reflection of our season, or how our season went,” McKinnon said. “The one thing about it, they didn’t quit.”