Hornets confident after win
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
1/15/13 at 3:49 AM
The Booker T. Washington Hornet girls left town last weekend to find themselves.
They found championship gold at Westmoore's Lady Jaguar Classic, and a reason to believe they could go far in this 2012-13 high school basketball season.
"We had to play three tough ball games and bring our best every night," coach Annette Kennedy said. "It's just a confidence-builder that we had the mental toughness to get ourselves ready to play three nights in a row."
The 6A No. 5 Hornets (10-1) downed Norman 53-26 in the first round, 5A No. 4 Carl Albert 41-38 in the semifinals and 6A No. 9 Putnam North 45-39 in the championship game.
Kaylan Mayberry scored 17 points against Carl Albert, Mikayla Alexander had a team-high 12 points against North, and MaKenzie Ellis was all-world throughout. The 6-foot-1 sophomore totaled 34 points, 22 rebounds, eight steals and two blocked shots over three games.
"(Ellis) finally came out of her shadow and started becoming more of a dominating factor on both ends of the floor," Kennedy said.
Kennedy has been waiting for Ellis to realize how good she can be. Long and agile, Ellis is a strong post defender who also can guard the other team's best perimeter player at times.
She did that Friday when Carl Albert's Gioya Carter, a University of Oklahoma signee, threatened to torch the Hornets. Carter finished with 22 points, but Ellis slowed her down by forcing her to take more difficult shots. Along the way, Ellis had 11 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots. In the final, she had 11 points, 10 rebounds and five steals.
Until last weekend, Kennedy wasn't sure what kind of team she had. Sure, the Hornets rallied to upset 5A No. 2 East Central, but most of their other pre-Christmas foes weren't of the same stature.
And although the Hornets boast six seniors, most of them, other than Mayberry and Rachel Block, returned with scant varsity experience.
With more playing time, Alexander has delivered consistency and 5.1 rebounds per game. Tori Cooks provides leadership with effort.
"Tori is ready to play every single night. You can see it in her face," Kennedy said. "She's one of those energetic players who finds herself in the mix and comes up with loose balls."
Last year's team missed the state tournament for the first time in 11 years, but Kennedy appears to have the Hornets on track for a return trip.
Mike Brown 918-581-8390