They were tired of hearing about last year.
Or the last three for that matter.
After dropping its last seven against the next-door rival Lady Eagles, the eighth-ranked Harker Heights girls basketball team grabbed the green monkey on its back and sent it hurling out of the packed-to-the-rafters Ellison gym with an authoritative 57-36 victory Tuesday.
"We just had a point to prove, I guess," Heights' fourth-year starting guard Brianna Golden said.
Hearing it from fans and media alike ever since last February's overtime collapse in the Region II-5A quarterfinals, the unbeaten Lady Knights (24-0, 4-0 12-5A) checked off one big New Year's resolution in the same fashion they've dispatched everyone else this season with no mercy.
"I'm just happy people can't bring it up no more," Heights senior guard Shanice Davis said. "OK, they beat us last year, but this is a new year 2012 and we won. It's over with."
From the opening possession, a steal by Golden, it was clear the Lady Knights were on a mission one that goes well beyond simply beating another District 12-5A opponent, even if it was Ellison (17-7, 1-3).
"At this juncture in the road for us, we're looking to win out," fourth-year Heights coach Shirretha Nelson said. "And that means we have to come and convert every single time we step out on the floor, no matter who the opponent is."
Not helping any was the Lady Eagles' shooting woes, managing a season-worst 21 percent from the field (13-of-61) including 3-of-16 from 3-point range.
"You're not going to win ball games when you shoot like that ... I think we gave them a test, but we couldn't capitalize when they got tired, and that's usually our game," Ellison coach Sherry McKinnon said. "Man, because we had good shots, they just weren't going in."
Before the game, Ellison honored the memory of Sonya Pointer, the mother of junior guard Deja Pointer who lost her battle with lymphatic cancer a year ago today.
But despite the emotional beginning, McKinnon said it didn't play a factor in her team's struggles.
"They wanted to do it for Deja, and Mrs. Pointer," McKinnon said. "(But) it wasn't lack of focus or the emotional part of it ... We just couldn't buy a basket. We couldn't hit."
Scoring the first five points of the game, forcing turnovers on the Lady Eagles' first two offensive possessions, the Lady Knights struck quickly and often, leading 17-7 after a pair of 3-pointers by Davis and senior reserve RaeVaugn Barnes with 1:51 left in the opening quarter.
Ellison battled back to pull within 22-16 with three minutes left before halftime, converting 5-of-7 from the free-throw line in the second quarter. But continued struggles from the field shooting just 6-of-28 in the first half allowed Heights to find it's groove again offensively late in the second quarter as Davis, Golden and JaQuan Jackson converted on back-to-back-to-back possessions to put the Lady Knights on top 29-16 a minute before the break.
Heights continued its hot streak to open the second half, scoring three times in the first minute and then took its first 20-point lead, 41-20, midway through the third quarter on another scoring surge from Brianna Freeman, Eboniey Jeter and Davis.
Showing off for a packed house, Jackson led the Lady Knights with 15 points, while Golden and Jeter each added 10 apiece. Jeter also pulled down 10 rebounds, with Freeman adding 13 boards and 8 points.
"Just to see people come out and support girls basketball the way they're doing, I'm happy to have my name tied to it," Nelson said. "It's apart of what Ellison has been doing in the past, and it's apart of what we hope to continue to do."