At times she plays so hard, she's a threat to hurt herself. But that's just the wide open approach of Sulphur Springs basketball standout Mackenzie Cross.
Off the court this 5-foot-6 point guard might be mistaken for just another honor student at SSHS. But when it gets time for competitive basketball action, she answers the bell with the "Big Mac attack."
An example of her talents is her recent game against district foe Marshall when she turned in a line of 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. She was all over the floor, diving and rolling. Even going up against 6-foot-6 post Reynetta Phillips and her massive wingspan. Phillips left an impression on Cross, literally, accidentally stepping on her foot and breaking a toenail.
Earlier in the year, during tournament action, she was going so hard and fast it led to an injury.
"I ran into a screen, I was going full speed," Cross said. "I ran into this stocky girl, I nailed her and I went flying into the bench."
The Lady Cats struggled to win in her absence with a concussion and SSHS girls head basketball coach Tina Carrillo is quick to point out, it is her leadership they miss.
"She's a four-year starter at point guard. She was voted as captain by her teammates. My only problem is when she needs to rest," Carrillo said with a laugh. "I can't let her out of the game to rest, I have to call a time out. She's a playmaker, she makes things happen on offense and defense."
Carrillo continued, "She's been a part of four different teams. She understands the game and this being her senior year, she have proven that. She knows how to get into the creases of a zone. We have called on her to do more than bringing the ball up. We asked her to rebound more and she can handle it because she's versatile. She's aggressive and quick and very determined because we haven't had a true post player and she helps on the boards."
On the year- Cross is the second leading scorer at 7.3 points a game, also averaging 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
"When we have chest-to-chest pressure on us, we have to have Cross controlling the ball for us," Carrillo said. "She's comfortable in that position. She's a team leader and she gets respect her because of her experience."
Running the team and setting up the offense is what Cross likes doing the best. Carrillo said she has a gift of knowing who’s hot and how to get the ball to the shooters.
"She's a true point guard, she’s never thinking about a shot, but a pass. She knows who needs the ball and she will hit them with a perfect pass in stride. She just knows the game," Carrillo added.
Cross has overcome the frustrations of the game and no longer makes fouls when she is angry at herself for missing a play. The coach said it was her type A personality.
"I like basketball because it is physical," Cross admitted. "I don't mind diving after balls, that's why my knees look like they do. It's fun because I get to play for coach Carrillo she's like my second mother. I have just learned a lot through basketball. My job is taking care of the ball and I like that. I like running things. I like to see other people get good shots.
She continued, "Being the team captain and a senior is a big responsibility. It sucks at times because it puts pressure on you. That pressure pushes me harder and I feel like it helps me do my job better."
Cross said she wants to continue playing sports either basketball or volleyball at the college level.
"I love playing and being physical," Cross said. "If I get a college scholarship offer in either sport I'd probably take it. I am going to major in psychology and I know that is tough and I want to keep my grades up."
Cross said she could even work toward being a coach in the future, sharing with them her wide open approach to sports.
"I just want to go to college and then get a job helping people, especially kids. I want to make them feel better about themselves," Cross added.
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