By Nick Talbot
Killeen Daily Herald
Jalissa Williams just wanted to feel that little piece of net between her hands once again.
Exhilarated and excited she yelled across the court to Ellison coach Sherry McKinnon, "Coach, I need a piece of the net."
As McKinnon brought her not just a piece of the net, but the whole thing back to her senior post, a smile broadened across Williams' face. And as Williams draped the net around her neck, tightly gripping it between her fingers, she let out a scream.
"Man (this net) feels like a first-place medal," Williams shouted, holding the net up to her lips to fake-kiss it. "This moment right now couldn't get any better."
Earlier, Williams had been the first one to ascend the ladder to cut the net down following the Lady Eagles stirring 57-48 comeback overtime win over Harker Heights in the 5A regional quarterfinal matchup Tuesday at Killeen.
With the win, which saw the Lady Eagles outscore the Lady Knights 30-6 in the fourth quarter and overtime, Ellison advances to the regional semifinals for not just the first time in McKinnon's tenure, but in school history.
The Lady Eagles (30-7) will face Georgetown at the Baylor Ferrell Special Events Center at 6 p.m. on Friday.
"Next to being married and my two daughters, this is one of the most exciting times of my life. This is all about these girls and the heart and fight they have shown all season," McKinnon said. "They believe in each other and words just cannot explain it."
For three and a half quarters, getting to the semifinal looked like a long shot, though. While late it was all Lady Eagles, the beginning of the game was all Harker Heights.
The Lady Knights (27-11) jumped out to a 10-2 lead on Ellison midway through the first quarter thanks to the inside game of Brianna Freeman, who got two easy putbacks in the early going.
Reeling, Ellison went to a full-court press and a 2-3 zone. It worked - at least for a while.
Mostly off the fast break, Kenesha Saygo scored seven of the Lady Eagles last nine points of the first quarter.
Rae'Vaughn Barnes hit a deep 3-pointer from the wing to put the Lady Knights back in control, 20-14, though.
In the third quarter, Heights looked like it had put the game away.
But after a listless third quarter where they were held to two points, Ellison held the Lady Knights scoreless in the fourth, until, Eboniey Jeter broke the drought with a pair of free throws.
The Ellison run did not end at 15-0, though.
With a gym so loud at the beginning of overtime, Ellison's Ocleta Young had to tap her ear to drown out the noise, but it did not derail Ellison.
"I think their full-court pressure got us in trouble," said Heights coach Shirretha Nelson. "They got aggressive and we were complacent and then the rebounding ... The rebounding. We can't give them three shots to make it and then go down and only take one shot ourselves."
Deja Pointer hit the Lady Eagles first 3-pointer of the game to put Ellison up 51-46 with 2:09 left in overtime. From there, Alayshia Hunter, who had 13 points, sealed the game from the free-throw line, hitting 5 of 6.
"Someone said they play like the Lady Eagles... no one plays like the Lady Eagles, said junior guard Ocleta Young. "The third time is not the charm for them. That might sound mean, but we beat you once, we beat you twice.
"We beat you the third time," Hunter and Young said in unison.
"That is the way it goes," Young finished.
Contact Nick Talbot at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569.