Ellsworth-Sander Signing

Georgetown graduates Kylie Ellsworth and Kylee Sander — caught for slightly more than four months in the uncertainties of the pandemic — were able to announce and celebrate their college basketball plans recently in a gathering of teammates, coaches, families and friends at the home of Mike and Roxanne Youngblood.

    

The GHS standouts elected to attend and compete for NAIA Division I powers. Ellsworth will continue her career with the Wayland Baptist Flying Queens in Plainview, while Sander has selected Louisiana State University-Shreveport Lady Pilots. Both schools are coming off of strong seasons. Wayland, one of the true pioneers of women’s collegiate basketball, went 31-2 last season, including an 18-1 run in Sooner Athletic Conference and won the league tournament.  LSU-Shreveport posted a 23-7 mark, including 14-4 reading in the Red River Conference and took first place in the RRC tourney. The NAIA national tournament was not played because of the health crisis.

Actually, the two women, who share the same first names with different spellings, will be going in different directions both geographically and on the court. Ellsworth said she planned to be a point guard in coach Alesha Ellis’ system and Sander will be taking her high-energy defensive pressure to Shreveport. Both Ellsworth and Sander will be traveling similar distances to continue their careers. Plainview, on the Texas South Plains, is 403 miles from G-Town while the third-largest city in Louisiana is 346 miles away on the Red River.  For the curious, they are 533 miles apart. The pandemic played separate roles in the collegiate decisions by the two.  Ellsworth was prepared to announce and celebrate her decision just prior to the decision to close campuses in March, while it gave Sander time to finalize her choice. Ellsworth and Sander became the third and fourth Lady Eagles to sign college scholarship agreements, joining forward McCall Hampton, who signed with NCAA Division II St. Edwards, and post Mackenzy Mouton, who will continue her career with NCAA Division III Howard Payne.

   

Ellsworth was a first-team All-District 18-5A selection, while Sander earned a spot on the second team for coach Rhonda Farney’s squad that advanced to the area round of the state playoffs with a 26-10 record, including a second-place 10-2 mark in district competition. Both Wayland and LSU-Shreveport were pleased with their acquisitions. “The best way I can describe Kylie Ellsworth is a bulldog player,” Ellis said. “She is a very tough competitor. She is super strong and loves to win. Her ability to drive to the basket and finish is something we are looking forward to the most. “Kylie comes from a great program at Georgetown and has been under one of the most successful coaches. She knows the game well and can play any of the guard positions. Her older sister is a softball player for the University of Texas, and she comes from a sweet, athletic family. I’m looking forward to her career at Wayland.”  Ellis also pointed to the following on Ellsworth’s resume: “She was a three-time all-district player, who as a senior earned all-tournament three times during the regular-season and was TABC all-region. She earned academic all-district three times and academic all-state once.”

LSU-Shreveport coach Matt Strickland had the following to say of Sander: “LSUS Women’s basketball is extremely excited to add Kylee to our Lady Pilot family. Getting a good freshman in our program who will contribute right away is really exciting. She comes from a very good program at Georgetown, and she will be able to make an easy transition into the college game. She will have the opportunity to learn from and compete against our veteran group every day, and I am extremely excited to see her develop and all she will be able to accomplish over the next four years here at LSU Shreveport.” Lady Pilots assistant coach Brianna Borgard, a former Lady Eagles’ all-state and All-Centex selection and three-season team captain. added the following:  “Being able to add Kylee Sander to our LSUS family is a perfect fit!  Kylee will be able to come in as a freshman and make an impact to our program instantly. Both of us spending our high school days in the Georgetown Lady Eagle Basketball program, I know Kylee will bring an incredible work ethic, strong defensive mentality, and an incredible desire to win. “Coach Farney does an amazing job of coaching her players to have great fundamentals and having high basketball IQ.  I am really excited to be able to coach Kylee at the next level. There’s no doubt in my mind that she will do big things for our program here at LSUS. Go Pilots!.”

   

 

Farney and her staff of Tosha Doherty, Katie Youngblood and Corey Cunningham complimented Ellsworth and Sander for their work ethic, drive, ability and determination along with a few stories during the celebration on the Youngblood’s patio. Prior to joining the athletic department at the GISD, Doherty was on the basketball staff at Wayland Baptist. Asked why she picked the Flying Queens, Ellsworth answered, “it was a perfect fit the program was like a family.” She said she was undecided on a course of study, but indicated she was interested in sports management.” Sander, who is looking at studying business, also said she felt that LSU-Shreveport was a comfortable fit.

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