A year after winning its first district championship in a decade and tallying a school-record 30 wins en route to the Region II-5A semifinals, the Ellison girls basketball team is getting some preseason love across the state.

The Lady Eagles open the 2011-12 season ranked as the No. 10 team in Class 5A according to the Texas Girls Coaches Association preseason polls released Thursday. Ellison was also honored as the 12th-best 5A squad as voted on by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, followed not too far behind by fellow District 12-5A foe and next-door rival Harker Heights at No. 25.

Joining them among the state-ranked teams is also Killeen, pegged as the No. 23 team in 4A by TABC/Tex Preps Basketball Magazine.

The Lady Eagles (30-8), led by defending TABC Class 5A Coach of the Year Sherry McKinnon, return a host of talent, including 6-foot-1 senior post Alayshia Hunter, senior guard Ocleta Young and junior Deja Pointer.

The Lady Knights (27-11), whom Ellison beat in the Region II quarterfinals, return every starter from last year's record-setting squad including 6-1 posts Eboniey Jeter and Brianna Freeman to go along with a bevy of talented and experienced guards.

Killeen (19-10) returns four of five starters off a third-place finisher in District 8-4A, including twin posts Imani and Imari Simpson and junior forward Jasmine Goodwine.

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