With 18 Tuesday night, E.J. Willis will be county’s career leader

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 16, 2001

[01/16/01] Porters Chapel Academy senior E.J. Willis is on the brink of yet another milestone, but this time the celebration will be bittersweet.

Willis takes the floor against Tensas Academy Tuesday night needing just 18 points to pass former Warren Central star Alisa Scott as the top girls’ scorer in Warren County history.

Willis has scored 2,833 points in 3 1/2 seasons as a varsity player. Scott netted 2,850 in four full seasons and is believed to be the top scorer all-time in Warren County, boy or girl, but official records are not kept.

“That’s a lot of points. That’s just hard to believe, that somebody can actually score that many points. It feels like I haven’t even scored half that. It just feels like it just kind of floats by, like it’s not even a big deal,” Willis said.

She’ll have to do it, however, without sister K.K. Willis, who tore her ACL for the second time in as many seasons in a 61-52 win over River Oaks Friday night. K.K. Willis was trying to take a charge when a River Oaks player stepped on her foot and the knee gave way.

It was hoped the injury wasn’t serious, but doctors at Mississippi Sports Medicine in Jackson confirmed Monday that Willis’ ACL was, in fact, torn. She will have surgery sometime in the next three weeks and hopes to be ready for the start of the 2000-01 season in October, said Mitchell Willis, her brother and coach.

“They haven’t done an MRI, but (doctors) know it’s torn,” he said. “He said it wasn’t because she wasn’t fully recovered, it just happened again … What kind of luck is that?”

E.J. Willis will reach her milestone and likely the next one, 3,000 points before the end of the season, but the loss of her sister could put a dent in the Lady Eagles’ chances of achieving their ultimate goal a state championship.

K.K. Willis was averaging nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds per game this season and was beginning to return to the form she displayed in 1998-99, when she helped the Lady Eagles to the state championship game and before she suffered the same injury early last season.

Last season’s experience helped most of the Lady Eagles learn how to adjust to life without her, and it showed Saturday in a 55-46 win over Hillcrest when several PCA players stepped up their game to fill the void.

E.J. Willis said the injury will make a title run more difficult, but not impossible.

“Me and Brady (Willis) and Kala (White), we know how to play without her. We had to do it for a whole year,” E.J. Willis said, referring to three veterans from last season’s squad. “We’ve done it before, we can do it again. Again, it’s not going to be easy at all, but we’ve experienced it before and we know what to do.”

What may be more difficult for E.J. Willis is making it to point No. 2,851. She confesses she was nervous before reaching the 1,000- and 2,000-point marks, and she hopes her teammates don’t get her the ball just to get the record early.

“I really don’t know if anybody even knows about it, really, and that’s good in a way, because when I scored my thousandth point, everybody was nervous for me and that made me nervous,” said E.J. Willis, who scored 12 points in the first quarter against River Oaks and nine in the first quarter of Saturday’s 55-46 win over Academy-AAAA Hillcrest.

“So if I get it (Tuesday), great. If I don’t, I’m going to get that before the season’s over. That’s no big deal, 18 points. But I think it’s best if they don’t know because they’ll forget about their game and worry too much about me.”