Ellis’ record-breaking girls stand at 11-1

Published 11:37 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2023

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Kayden Richardson has missed four games and won’t suit up again this season. Compounding matters, the Ellis girls basketball team lost another key player to injury last week in defensive warrior Gracyn Coleman.

Those setbacks might come back to haunt the Jaguars in the final week of the regular season and/or in the conference tournament, but then again, there’s quite a bit of firepower on coach Susan Jones’ squad. Ellis rampaged through Millennium Charter and Canterbury last week and broke two program records in the process.

“We went in for a shoot-around (Jan. 16) and Gracyn reinjured her ankle,” Jones said. “Defensively we were not as aggressive as usual (at Millennium). The defensive issue was probably due to missing Gracyn, who is like a bulldog on the ball, causing chaos that sparks the rest of the girls.”

The visiting Jaguars carved out leads of 10-1 and 48-18 on the way to a 56-19 thumping of Millennium on Jan. 17.

While Emmie Burris (17 points, six steals) was the star, Madison Daugherty enjoyed quite a coming-out party in terms of scoring. She delivered 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting, doubling her previous high in points, while hitting two 3s and making three steals.

“Emmie was our anchor and she played phenomenally,” Jones said. “Madison was as consistent as always running the point. She has a confidence about her that helps the team feel confident not only in her, but in what they are doing.”

The third Jaguar in double figures was Olivia Smith (10 points, three steals). Ellis got seven points and five steals from Cayleigh Love, six points and five rebounds from Quinn Cornatzer and two points, three rebounds and two steals from Kate Nicholson.

“Quinn returned after spraining her wrist in the South Davie game and brought a great presence in the low post,” Jones said. “Cayleigh was continuous pressure on the point.”

Making the win all the better, Emily Hernandez, Sydney Ward and Olivia Rareshide got extended minutes in the fourth quarter.

“(They got) some well-earned minutes,” Jones said. “They played selflessly and it was fun to watch.”

Ellis 42, Canterbury 16

When the first quarter ended at Canterbury on Jan. 19, Jones was not happy. The score was 7-7 and Ellis was sluggish.

But the difference in talent became obvious in the second quarter. Burris took over, Ellis broke out to a 21-11 halftime lead and it never looked back.

“(Ellis) got control when Emmie stepped up and drained two 3s,” Jones said. “She always seems to know when the team needs something, and she tends to step up and do it – whether it’s hitting a 3, making a steal or driving in for a layup. She is a gamer in every sense.”

Jones was pleased with how the halftime adjustments unfolded. Ellis scored all eight points in the third and the rout was on.

“We made plans to spread the halfcourt pressure out by bringing Emmie to the top of the 3-point arc while Madison and Cayleigh continued to pressure the two guards the moment they crossed halfcourt,” she said. “This left Olivia, Kate and Quinn to keep Canterbury’s 6-foot post player covered in the paint. The girls played feverishly well.”

Smith (15 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals), Burris (12 points, five steals, three rebounds, two assists) and Daugherty (eight points, six rebounds, four assists, four steals) were dominant. Cornatzer had three points. Love had two points and six steals. Nicholson had two points.

The Jaguars set program records for winning streak and wins. They have won seven straight; the old record in their 16-year history was five. They are 11-1, winning by an average score of 41-21. The old mark for wins was nine (9-6 in 2008-09 and 9-6 in 2013-14).

ND 39, SD 28

The North Davie-South Davie game on Jan. 18 was a nailbiter for three quarters, but the host Wildcats finally pulled away in the fourth.

At the end of the third, the Wildcats held a 25-21 lead. But Avarie Martin and Landry Parsons dictated terms in the decisive fourth, scoring 12 of North’s 14 points and lifting their team over .500 (6-5).

“In the first half, we couldn’t hit the ocean,” North coach Trish King said. “We took great shots, just everything went in and out or around the rim.

“We upped our defensive pressure (in the fourth), made some interceptions and finished with fast break layups. I am so proud of the grit and determination we showed on defense.”

There’s no overstating what Martin has meant to North’s season. She poured in 18 points, the fifth time she’s reached that mark. She is averaging 15.3 of North’s 34.4 points.

Martin, though, can’t do it alone, and Parsons stepped up with 11 points. After totaling 13 points through the first eight games, she has flourished in the last three (9.3 average during that stretch). Maddie Ratledge had six and Hayden Gavura four.

“Landry made some clutch shots,” King said. “She went 4-4 from the line. Definitely a lot of improvement in her game. Last year was her first year playing basketball, and I think it’s finally starting to click.”

For South, Londyn McDowell (14 points) did everything she could to will her team to victory.

“She knew this could possibly be her last game as a middle schooler,” South coach Brandon Gentry said. “She played her heart out and left it all on the court.”

Aryanna Warren had eight, Harmoni Alston four and Vivian Vaughters two.

Even though the Tigers (3-10) have dropped four straight, including a hard-fought 31-27 setback to Wesleyan Jan. 17, Gentry hass seen steady improvement throughout the season.

“They don’t need to hold their heads down,” he said. “If they look at the beginning of the season and look how we ended (the regular season), we became a team. I have a lot of first-timers and it speaks volumes how this team has come together. I’m super proud of them.”