The Ellison Lady Eagles always seem to run on pure emotion.
At times, though, that emotion isn't always good.
With their coach, Sherry McKinnon, off at a funeral Friday and the rest of the team reeling from the loss of a friend, Devan Craine, who graduated from Ellison last year, the team was crestfallen.
Despite jumping out to a 13-4 lead, the Lady Eagles couldn't keep their momentum going and at times looked zombified. But, behind the scoring of Kanesha Saygo, Ellison rallied and outscored the Lady Grey Wolves 12-0 down the stretch for a 51-46 win.
"We were down. We were real down. We had a major setback today with the loss of our friend," Saygo said. "That's how it was and we took it with the mind-set that we had to win."
Saygo led Ellison with 20 points, including eight in the first quarter, and her offense kept the Lady Eagles (20-7, 4-3 12-5A) in front for a while.
"My team was setting the right picks and told me to keep driving in and to use my left hand," Saygo said. "So, that's what I had to do keep taking it to the hole and make them foul you."
However, the 3-point shots that usually fall for the Lady Eagles clanked off the rim time and time again. Ellison finished a dismal 3-of-17 from beyond the arc.
"I think the zone (Shoemaker used) threw us off," said Ellison assistant coach Deanna Sullivan, who was filling in for McKinnon. "We talked about it before hand ... but when we got out there we were so used to being able to shoot that we took some inopportune shots."
Kiara Rawls hit two 3-pointers to cut the Ellison lead from nine down to two at 20-18 and Cion Hicks hit a layup at the buzzer to send the two teams into the locker rooms at halftime tied at 23-23.
Ellison pounced in the opening minute of the second half, scoring the first six points.
Again, the momentum didn't last.
Cion Hicks drained a 3-pointer from the corner and Gabrielle Wells, who was just cleared by the UIL to play this week after moving from New York last March, got a layup and converted the and-one.
Wells' three-point play put the Lady Grey Wolves (12-14, 2-5) up 36-32.
"(Wells) is coming around, but a game is different than practice," said Shoemaker coach Shauna Showers. "Even tonight, though, she did things she didn't against (Copperas) Cove."
In the fourth, Rawls hit a jumper and got a putback to keep Shoemaker in front 42-39 with just over four minutes remaining.
However, Saygo got Ellison started with a runner in the lane and, with Kaitlyn Shearer coming off the bench to provide some much needed rebounding, the Lady Eagles took off.
Ocleta Young hit a short jumper, Alayshia Hunter got a layup despite being too far underneath the basket and Ellison hit 6 of 8 from the line down as it went on 12-0 run over the next three minutes.
"I think we just had some lapses in defense," Showers said. "We didn't stop the two dribble penetrations and then they made those two shots and ... Closer to the end we just had lapses."
"After we played Cove, I didn't think we had a good team effort. Tonight I thought we did."
The scoring outburst put the Lady Eagles up 51-42 and, despite late baskets by Rawls and Hailee Showers, cinched the game for Ellison.
"When one person is down," Saygo said. "Everyone is down, so we had to build everyone back up one by one and put emotion aside and play our game play Lady Eagles basketball."
Contact Nick Talbot at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569