'I like pressure': Emrie Ellis looking to cap perfect season with Vanoss' first state title in 29 years
Emrie Ellis walked off the court to a standing ovation at the State Fair Arena.
With about three minutes left in the Class A state semifinal game, Ellis had done everything she needed to do to secure Vanoss’ 69-48 win and the stat sheet proved it.
The 6-foot-2 senior filled every category with at least one number.
And the Vanoss fans, coaches and players were letting her know they appreciated her hard work for not only what she did on Friday but also what she's done all year.
The Arkansas signee has put together one of the best seasons in Vanoss history. And after Friday’s win over Vici, she’s one win away from capping her magical season and Vanoss’ undefeated season with a state championship at a school without much postseason success.
When the Wolves step onto the court on Saturday, it’ll be Vanoss’ first time in the state championship game since 1992, which was the last time the Wolves won the title.
That’s 29 years ago.
None of Vanoss’ players were born yet, head coach Jon Hurt was just 5 years old and George H. W. Bush was in the Oval Office.
Safe to say, it’ll be a monumental moment for the program.
But Ellis isn’t backing down from the moment.
“That’s a lot of pressure on us because everyone is expecting us to win it,” Ellis said with a smile. “But I like pressure.”
The entire team is worthy of a nod for getting Vanoss to the state championship. East Central signee Emily Wilson has led the team in scoring, and Lizzy Simpson has been a great third option. But it’s no secret Ellis has been the most important piece for the team to get to this point.
She’s tallied 14.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 4.0 blocks a game while leading Vanoss to an undefeated 26-0 season. That’s already an impressive feat, but there’s so much more.
Vanoss has won by an average of 51.1 points per game this season. And in a majority of Vanoss’ wins, Ellis doesn’t play after halftime because Hurt doesn’t want to run the score up too much.
In short, she’s been dominant.
“She’s a great player,” Hurt said. “She makes all the right plays and makes it look easy. She may not always be our leading scorer, but she’s always our best player.”
Vanoss entered the state tournament last season as the No. 1 seed in Class 2A but was unable to play after the state tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This season, Vanoss dropped down a classification, and on Saturday, Ellis and the Wolves will finally get their chance to end the championship drought.
With Ellis leading the way, a championship doesn’t seem as far-fetched as it has in the past three decades.
“We’ve been waiting for this since freshman year, and we’re ready for it,” Ellis said. “I’m excited for tomorrow, and I think that if we play well then we’ll bring it home.”