For her team to finally reach its full potential, Ellison coach Sherry Nelson knows it's going to take more than just a select handful of scorers.
That's why, against Waco University, the sixth-year Lady Eagles coach flip-flopped her starting lineup and allowed her regular bench players to see most of the action.
With all but one of its 13 varsity players scoring, No. 19 Ellison easily dispatched the visiting Lady Trojans in a runaway, 63-16, on Tuesday.
"We're going to have times when our starters can't (score), because they're in foul trouble or they're just not having a good game. So, everybody needs to be able to provide for our team," explained senior guard Jasmine Washington, who started along with Kenesha Saygo, Deja Pointer, Stephanie Wasson, and Shanelia Williams.
Doing much of her scoring in the paint, Saygo led with 14 points while Washington had her long-distance game going with a pair of 3s for 11 points.
"Kenesha has no fear she has one speed, and that's go hard and get knocked down," McKinnon said. "... And Jaz (Washington), I think it was just getting her confidence back, and I need her to do that (as a three-year player)."
Using a full-court trap, the Lady Eagles (8-2) kept University from crossing halfcourt until the six minute mark of the opening frame to jump ahead 6-0 despite poor
shooting, thanks to nine straight Lady Trojan turnovers.
Post Da'Netra Pollard scored University's (1-3) first points with a putback of a miss by teammate Rhea Ross with 3:03 left in the first.
"They were stealing the ball, but we weren't capitalizing on it," McKinnon said of the early lead. "They were out there playing defense, but we couldn't finish off shots. Then they finally settled in."
Although the Lady Eagles' usual starters Toi Taylor, Kaneitria Curtis, Ocleta Young, Alayshia Hunter and Jalissa Williams played limited minutes, they more than made the most of the time they had.
Finally entering the game around the 2-minute mark of the first quarter, Ellison's regular starters exploded on an 18-2 run over the next 4½ minutes for an emphatic 26-5 advantage with just under five minutes to play before halftime.
"I feel comfortable that they know each other enough to know where people are going to be," McKinnon said of her starters. "So I really wasn't worried I knew once they got in, that would happen and the goal was for them to do their thing so we could let these other kids play."
The lead ballooned to 33-5 while University experienced its second extended drought before Pollard again broke it up by making the first of a one-and-one with 2:39 on the clock. Her free throw ended a scoreless streak of 5:02 that began nine seconds into the second quarter.
Both teams traded buckets over the next 1:45 before a lay-up by Pollard 56 seconds before the break made it 37-11. It'd be University's last for awhile.
Beginning with a layup from reserve post Shanil Longwood 20 seconds later, Ellison went on an 18-0 run over the next 10:44 to extend the lead to 55-11 before Lady Trojan guard Latavia Gilbert hit a jumper with 6:12 to play in the fourth quarter.
Ellison's 8-2 start is its best pre-Thanksgiving record under McKinnon, which she credits to the team's drive for more following back-to-back one-and-done playoff exits the previous two seasons.
"They're hungry and I'm hungry, and we're expecting a lot of success this year," McKinnon said.