After entering the fourth quarter of last year's Class 3A state basketball championship game tied with Barrow, the Nikiski girls extended their defensive pressure and rolled to a 48-41 victory.
It was the seventh state title in 12 years for Nikiski head coach Ward Romans, so naturally everyone thought he was the genius behind the increased defensive heat in the fourth quarter.
"The Barrow coach, in a TV or newspaper interview after the game, was giving credit to the coaches for putting on more defensive pressure," said Nikiski assistant coach Vern Kornstad. "We didn't do that.
"Lynzie (Ellis) and the other players did it by themselves. I think that shows the kind of players we get out here at Nikiski."
Romans said Ellis, now a senior with two state titles under her belt, has never been a player to seek out the spotlight by filling up the stat sheets.
"She's just been a blessing to coach," Romans said. "She's always had a tremendous amount of faith in what we're trying to do as coaches.
"That's made her extremely coachable."
At last year's state tournament, word quickly got out that in order to beat Nikiski, Hisa Miyara and Karen Rabung must be stopped.
Romans went to Ellis and told her he needed another scoring threat in the lineup.
"I just remember he told me to start taking every open shot I had," Ellis said. "I really didn't feel that comfortable shooting last year, but I started shooting anyway."
Ellis scored nine points on 4-of-4 shooting in a 43-29 victory over Petersburg in the state semifinals, then hit up Barrow for eight points in the championship game.
This season, Ellis has taken on more of a leadership role on a Bulldogs team that lost three starters from last year.
"At the beginning of the year, I think she was feeling too much pressure being one of two remaining starters, and she was trying to do too much," Romans said. "She's relaxed and started doing what she does best and that's be Lynzie."
Being Lynzie means being a great defender, a molder of team unity and a player that provides all the intangibles it takes to win.
Ellis' ability to forge team unity is so subtle, Kornstad said it's easy to miss.
"I think most people watching the team would have no idea how much she cares for all the girls on this team," Kornstad said.
Romans said one way this shines through is how quickly Ellis responds to the success of a teammate.
"She doesn't have to have the limelight," Romans said. "She's really happy for her teammates when they get the limelight.
"When her teammates make a great play, she's usually the first one to congratulate them."
According to Ellis' mom, Karen Ellis, Ellis' abilities as a people person extend beyond the basketball court.
"At home, members of the family will have disagreements," Karen said. "She doesn't like it when people are arguing. She's always looking for a way to end those disagreements."
In addition to excelling on the basketball court for the Bulldogs, Ellis also does well at softball. For the past two summers, she has been selected to play on Team Alaska, made up of Southcentral Alaska's best players.
Ellis, who sang in the madrigal choir at Nikiski through her sophomore year until her choir instructor left, also does well in the classroom at Nikiski. She has a 3.9 grade-point average.
"I remember giving her writing assignments," said Kornstad, who taught Ellis in seventh grade. "She blew right through anything I gave her."
Next year, Ellis, who was the Nikiski Chamber of Commerce student of the month for October 2003, will attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She will pursue a degree in sports medicine or a related field.
"She's very self-motivated," Karen said of her daughter. "With both my girls, when it's time to study, they get it all done on their own.
"With my boys, it's 'Can you help me with this?' Lynzie's not like that."
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.