Sherry McKinnon is entering the new year exactly where she wants to be — atop the field.

Looking to maintain second place in the District 12-6A standings, Ellison closed out 2019 with an afternoon contest against visiting Temple on Tuesday. Thanks in part to limiting the Tem-Cats to just four points in the second and third quarters, the Lady Eagles accomplished the goal, winning 46-33.

Then, however, Ellison received a late Christmas present as No. 21 Waco Midway handed No. 15 Harker Heights its third loss in four games, and the combination elevated the Lady Eagles into a tie for first place.

While lots of work remains before potentially earning a district championship, Ellison’s head coach believes her team is in an ideal position to secure the trophy.

“I like where we are at,” McKinnon said, “because our destiny is in our own

hands now, and as a coach, I love that.

“We don’t have to worry about this team doing this or that team doing that any more. All we have to do now is get out and play.”

The Lady Eagles experienced few issues defeating Temple.

After emerging from a back-and-forth first quarter with a slim 13-12 advantage, Ellison (13-7, 5-1) fell behind by a point as Tem-Cats senior Paysee Crow made a shot to open the second period.

But the advantage immediately disappeared.

The Lady Eagles responded with 10 unanswered points before Temple post Wilashia Burleson made a pair of free throws with less than 40 seconds remaining in the half. Then, Ellison outscored the Tem-Cats 9-4 in the third quarter to take complete control.

“We did a really good job of doing what we needed to do against a couple key players for Temple,” McKinnon said, “but on the other end, we struggled to score.

“We have to improve in that area.”

Although eight Ellison players posted points in the victory, only three players finished with at least two field goals. The lone Lady Eagle to deliver consistently was senior Di’Ambria Whyte.

The post made half her shots (6 of 12) en route to a game-high 14 points and seven rebounds, giving Ellison production it lacked from typical sources.

“Almost all the shots Di’Ambria takes,” McKinnon said, “she makes, because they are good shots. So, we definitely want her to take those, and our guards did a good job of feeding her the ball.

“She is a really big asset to the team.”

Arrianna Faulks complemented Whyte’s outing with a 10-point showing, while teammate Nylia Mobley finished with six points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals. For Temple, which fell to 16-8 overall and 3-2 in district, Burleson scored a team-high 13 points to go with four assists.

Now, the Lady Eagles look to carry the momentum into the new year when they travel to play Belton on Friday.

“I’m really satisfied with where we are at as a team,” McKinnon said. “We haven’t peaked, and we’re playing a little better each game.

“We’re getting more consistent, and all those things are going to help us as the season continues.”

ELLISON 46, TEMPLE 33

Temple (33)

Burleson 13, Hall 6, Colbert 6, Crow 2, T.Johnson 2, Riggins 2, H.Johnson 2.

Ellison (46)

Whyte 14, Faulks 10, Mobley 6, Lorenzo 5, Reed 3, Stockard 3, Ford 3, Simon 2.

Ellison 13 11 9 13—46

Temple 12 4 4 13—33

3-Point Goals—Temple 0, Ellison 4 (Faulks 2, Reed, Lorenzo). Free Throws—Temple 3-7, Ellison 14-25, Temple 3-7. Fouled Out—Burleson. Total Fouls—Temple 20, Ellison 14. Technicals—Riggins.

Records—Temple 16-8, 3-2 12-6A; Ellison 13-7, 5-1.

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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