By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
With three games remaining before the holiday break, the Ellison girls basketball team is striving to be much like a traditional Thanksgiving turkey – cooking on all cylinders.
Off to their best start in four seasons under coach Sherry McKinnon, the Lady Eagles took their game to the next level toward perfection, at least for one quarter.
By shutting out visiting Waco University 24-0 in the final quarter of play, host Ellison completed a dominating 69-26 rout Saturday afternoon at Eagle Gym.
"I put a challenge out to them that I wanted 30 rebounds, and we wanted to defensively do some things to stop them," McKinnon said. "No matter who we play, we thought we really needed to improve our defense, and I feel like we did that."
Pounding the boards all night, including several for second and third opportunities, the Lady Eagles (5-1) controlled all aspects of the game to finish with a season-high 55 total rebounds – including season-best 18 offensive and 37 defensive boards.
"We've talked about being very aggressive on the offensive boards, because our guards aren't going to make it every time," McKinnon said. "But that's bread-and-butter for us."
Led by the first double-double of the season for senior post Desiree Wylie, who had 21 points and a season-high 13 rebounds, Ellison made its living working in the paint.
"(She showed me) the leadership that I knew she had within her to be just a really good player," McKinnon said. "She's a hard worker. She's been disappointed she hadn't gotten that double-double but she got that tonight."
When Wylie wasn't pushing her weight around under the basket, sophomore Alayshia Hunter and junior Jolissa Williams took over, finishing with 15 points apiece, Senior point guard Alisha Jones added six points and five assists in just a half of play.
"All of them did a great job for us today," McKinnon said of her post play. "It was just a good game for us."
After a poor shooting performance in the first quarter, managing just 11 points in the frame, the Lady Eagles offense took off in the second, jumping out on a 12-4 run for a 23-12 advantage midway through the period for its first double-digit lead, something they wouldn't surrender.
From there, it was all Ellison.
Coming out of halftime leading 27-16, the Lady Eagles continued to pile it on, scoring eight straight before University made its first basket at the 5:42 mark in the third.
From there, the Lady Trojans fought to keep the deficit under 20. But to no avail as Hunter stole an inbounds pass and laid it in for the easy bucket to take a 45-24 lead with two minutes left.
After both teams traded turnovers, University cut the lead back to 19 with a layup with 5 seconds left to spare, but that would be the last bucket for the Lady Trojans, as Ellison pitched a shutout the entire fourth quarter.
Contact Alex Byington at email@example.com or at (254) 501-7566.