DALLAS — One game after having one of her worst shooting nights of the season, McKinney junior guard Trinity White had one of the best halves of her career during Friday’s regional semifinal against Pflugerville Hendrickson.
When the final horn sounded, after using White’s hot start as a catalyst, McKinney beat Hendrickson 66-53 in their regional semifinal showdown at Ellis Davis Fieldhouse. With the win, McKinney clinched its first berth in the regional final round since 1998, while ending Hendrickson’s season at the regional tournament for the third consecutive season.
Although White only scored two points on free throws in the second half after erupting for 15 points in the first half, the talented junior drained three 3-point field goals on the night and knew she had to come up big to help the Lionettes grab the biggest win in recent program history.
“It feels awesome because our program hasn’t made it past round four since 1998, so we are pumped to be playing in the finals tomorrow,” White said. “The past few games I’ve been playing timid because we’re playing with a new ball, but after getting some shots up in between games I finally got my confidence back and was able to shoot well tonight. My mindset going forward is to play the same way I did tonight and bring a lot of energy on the floor and to feed off my teammates energy and play hard.”
The Lionettes didn’t take control of the game until late in the second quarter when they turned a 20-18 lead into a 36-20 halftime cushion by going on a 16-2 run over the final 4:31 of the quarter. McKinney’s big run to close the half came after a well-timed timeout by veteran head coach Deb Harris.
During the run, McKinney got four combined big baskets by the senior duo of Taylor Jackson and Nic Porter, along with a 3-ball by White to cap off the run.
“I’m very proud of how our girls responded because I called the timeout because our defense was flat, and they came out and did what we needed them to do,” Harris said. “Don’t get me wrong — I’m extremely proud of how our kids played and that we won, but I think we blew a lot of assignments and can play even better, which is very exciting.”
McKinney came out the locker room and scored the first five points of the second half and never looked back, as Hendrickson could only cut the lead to 11 points. A major reason Hendrickson couldn’t close the gap is because McKinney went 10-of-13 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to close out the Lionettes’ biggest wire-to-wire victory this season.
McKinney will now take on district rival and 9-6A district champions Plano Senior for the third time this season for the right to go to the program’s first state tournament in 23 seasons. Plano swept the regular-season series by beating McKinney by 11 and eight points in district play.
“They key to tomorrow’s game is simple: We must pay attention to detail and keep playing hard and execute at a high level on every possession like we’ve been doing all throughout the playoffs,” Harris said.