By Nick Talbot
Killeen Daily Herald
Toi Taylor wanted to win no matter what.
Ten years was too long. The Ellison Lady Eagles just had to win the District 12-5A title.
And while Taylor didn't even score, her contribution might have been the most important one on the team - shutting down Temple's Loryn Goodwin.
Goodwin had scored 16 of Tem-Cats' 27 first half points and was single-handedly defeating the Lady Eagles. However, Taylor and sophomore Deja Pointer held the Temple junior to only one field goal in the second half and defeated Temple 51-49 to win the district title outright.
"I was just facing her, holding her - kind of holding her, maybe holding her jersey a
little bit - but she wasn't getting the ball," Taylor said. "She wasn't getting any touches or getting any field goals.
"I wanted to win, and to win we had to stop her."
Goodwin could not be stopped in the first half. She drained three 3-pointers and was 7-of-8 from the free throw line.
Meanwhile, outside of two of Pointer's patented deep-arcing 3-pointers, Ellison (27-6, 11-2 12-5A) couldn't score.
"We were missing a lot of easy shots, we were 3-of-22 from the field (from inside the 3-point line) and we had to make those chip shots if we were going to win," McKinnon said.
Pointer's second 3 cut Temple's lead to 20-19. But due to Ellison's poor shooting, the Tem-Cats (24-9, 9-4) ended the half on a 7-0 run - five from Goodwin.
In an effort to shut Goodwin down in the second half, Ellison coach Sherry McKinnon switched her team into a box-and-one defense. It worked.
But even with Taylor and Pointer, who led Ellison with 12 points, shutting Goodwin down by any means necessary, Ellison still had to shoot the ball better to win.
That fell on Kaneitra Curtis.
Before the game, McKinnon told Curtis to shoot the 3 if she had it. With the Lady Eagles down 36-29, Curtis did just that, draining a trey from the wing.
Ocleta Young added another 3 from long range to cut the Tem-Cats' lead to 38-35 entering the fourth quarter. Ellison finally took the lead on consecutive putbacks by Jalissa Williams, who had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Eagles.
Then Curtis hit the biggest shot of the game, draining another 3 from the wing and putting the Lady Eagles up 49-45 with a 1:30 remaining.
"I just felt it, but I was nervous," Curtis said, admitting she held her breath when the shot was in the air.
She wasn't the only one holding her breath, especially since Ellison didn't hit another shot from the field after Curtis' 3.
"I was nervous the entire game," Washington said. "My arms were shaking and my legs were shaking the entire game, because I know I wanted it and I know my team wanted it."
The only time Washington's arms and legs weren't vibrating with intensity was when she was at the free-throw line with the game on the line.
She was ready for that. The senior hit one of her two shots from the charity stripe to put Ellison up 51-49.
"I wasn't too nervous on that because I had been practicing them for an hour (Thursday) and before the game; making sure I had the right rotation and keeping the ball out in front of me," Washington said. "I turned over to (assistant) coach (Michelle) O'Neal and she told me to just be patient on the release and I did and one of them went in."
And when Goodwin's last-second 3-point attempt fell well short, Ellison had its first district championship in 10 years.
"That is something I am always going to be able to say," Williams said. "When anybody talks about Ellison I can say, 'You know that 2010-11 year? We were district champs."