Warriors stay unbeaten in district with win over rival (w/gallery, video)
Jan. 21, 2014 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 20, 2014 at 7:21 p.m.
Victoria West's Mercedes Ellison wants to be "like Mike."
Michael Jordan's professional career is what gave the Warriors' junior guard/forward her initial inspiration to play basketball.
"Basketball has always been my passion, but I have to say that Michael Jordan was like the inspiration to me when I was little," Ellison said. "I would watch him play; I would see him in magazines and in commercials and say, 'I want to be just like him.'"
Starting at age 4, Ellison set out to sink basket after basket. Since then, she has progressed to become one of West's best players.
"I'm going to keep playing until I'm as good or even better than I want to be," Ellison said after West's 48-25 victory over Victoria East on Tuesday night at the East gym.
The Warriors (23-4, 9-0) kept a strong lead after the first quarter of the District 30-4A rivalry.
This was West's second victory over East (11-16, 5-4) this season and extended the Warriors' district winning streak.
In Tuesday's crosstown rivalry match, Ellison led the Warriors in scoring with 18 points.
Any time East and West meet in an arena - whether it's a football field or a basketball court - it has an extra scoop of adrenaline for the athletes.
"It feels really good to beat our crosstown rival," Ellison said. "It's a lot of pressure, but we play with a lot of intensity and go out in every game with the mindset of 'OK, we have to play to win; we have to fight to win.' We came into this game with confidence and did what we have to do to win."
West coach Sandra Jimenez said that Ellison is one of the leading scorers in each game but that all of the players are capable of scoring.
The team's chemistry is a major factor in its success, Ellison said.
She and junior Tiana Davila, who scored 10 points Tuesday night, have played basketball together since seventh grade.
"We have a really good bond; we know what the other is going to do (on the court)," Ellison said. "The team also has a really good bond. We do stuff outside of the game and outside of the gym, so that helps when we go out and battle each team."
Jimenez said that the girls have a pregame routine that she's not invited to.
"They basically get themselves pepped up and ready for the game," Jimenez said. "I do see a lot of team chemistry: They like each other, respect each other, and I think they feel a lot of respect and leadership from our three seniors."
All the seniors contributed. Allyson Dlouhy scored twice, Silvey Estrada scored once, and Lauren Rodriguez had four points.
With a larger point gap than their last meeting, West grabbed the lead in the second quarter and didn't let go.
Both teams played strong defense, which caused the opponent to make mistakes. However, the mistakes weren't always taken advantage of - especially in East's case.
"You have to give credit to West; they played a great game and actually kind of deflated us with their press," said East coach Yulonda Wimbish-North. "I do think we have improved as a team, regardless of what the score shows."
Wimbish-North believes the Lady Titans have improved since their first game.
"This one game does not define the steps this team has made," she said. "We struggled offensively and turned the ball over a lot - no excuses; we just didn't play well."
West senior Lauren Rodriguez said that all the hype associated with the East vs. West rivalry makes it more fun.
"I think a lot of our teachers and staff members expect a lot from us when we play the crosstown rivalry game," Rodriguez said. "It's a lot of adrenaline and hype - it's a lot of fun."
One thing Rodriguez has learned in playing West basketball is loyalty.
"Team is everything - we have to play and win and do everything we do for each other," Rodriguez said.