Deja Pointer received the best kind of advice Friday morning.

“Today I want you to play well and play as if your mom was there,” her father told her. And for the first time since her mother, Sonya, died Jan. 4 following a yearlong battle with lymphatic cancer, she did.

Accounting for four of Ellison’s season-high nine 3s, Pointer combined with senior Ocleta Young and the Lady Eagles avenged a previous district loss with a 54-44 victory over A&M Consolidated. “It felt amazing, I’m just happy that I was able to boost my team toward the win,” said the sophomore Pointer. The win kept Ellison (23-6, 7-2 12-5A) locked in a three-way tie atop the district standings, after Harker Heights blasted Belton 63-44 and Temple edged Cove 57-49 also on Friday. Shooting 5 of 12 from beyond the arc, Young led all scorers with 17 points while Pointer finished with 13 and added six rebounds.

It was the first time Pointer reached double-digits since scoring a season-high 17 against Killeen on Dec. 28 — the last game her mother saw her play.

“She’s my hero,” Ellison coach Sherry McKinnon said. “I’ve never seen a kid handle such a situation ... She never let it get her down, she never used it as a crutch as her mom was going through it. It just never got her down. “I attribute that to the way (her parents) raised her.”

Calling Pointer her “secret weapon,” McKinnon was forced to deploy the Lady Eagles’ long range shooting because of some self-imposed disciplinary issues with her posts.

The sharpshooting started early as Young nailed back-to-back 3s in the first minute of the game, accounting for Ellison’s first eight points for an early 8-7 advantage 2½ minutes into the game. It wasn’t long before Pointer got into the act, drilling her first 3 with 3:12 to play after Consolidated had scored on back-to-back possessions.

“After (Young) made hers, I was like, let me get in and do it too,” said Pointer. “So, I shot them up and they fell.”

It halted a two-minute scoring drought that included three missed shots and three turnovers.

“She just has the most perfect shot, her whole mechanics are perfect, and you just know they’re going in,” McKinnon said.

Pointer rimmed in her second with 1:24 left in the first to put Ellison ahead 16-14 and never trailed again.

Consolidated (19-9, 5-4) pulled within 29-27 at halftime, but again Pointer got things started with her fourth 3-pointer 41 seconds into the third.

“Her life has shined in her play and her dedication and just her whole demeanor in how she carries herself,” McKinnon said of Pointer. “I know she misses her mom, and it’s tough, but she’s just amazing, and it’s made the girls even closer after everything.”

Ellison then turned inside as Jasmine Washington and junior post Alayshia Hunter — who sat the entire first half — combined to score eight straight points for a 40-31 lead with under three minutes left in the quarter. That’s when Young took over.

Young added her third trey 14 seconds into the fourth quarter and followed with No. 4 and 5 over the next four minutes to put Ellison on top 52-43 with 3½ minutes.

“Honestly, we all look up to Deja,” Young said. “Even though she’s the youngest person on the team, we all look up to her — she’s a very strong girl.”

Contact Alex Byington at or (254) 501-7566.

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