Vanoss fans will soon have to learn Hog Call

Vanoss sophomore Emrie Ellis poses with Arkansas women’s basketball coach Mike Neighbors during her second visit to the Fayetteville campus in November. Before she left for home, Ellis committed to play collegiate basketball with the Razorbacks.

“Wooooooooo. Pig. Sooie!”

Vanoss girls basketball fans will need to learn to perfect the infamous Hog Call that University of Arkansas faithful make to get Razorback athletic teams fired up after super sophomore Emrie Ellis verbally committed to the Southeastern Conference school last month.

Ellis visited the Fayetteville campus in early October and went back Nov. 18. She told Arkansas head coach Mike Neighbors and members of his staff she wanted to be a Razorback before she returned home.

“I liked all the coaches. I liked the atmosphere. It wasn’t too big of a town, and it wasn’t too small. I felt like I fit in really good there,” Ellis said of her big decision.

Why so soon? Many have asked Ellis that question. After all, she is just a sophomore.

“I knew I was set there. Everything about it was me. I didn’t wanna go anywhere else,” she said. “I love the coaches. The facilities are nice. I just loved it.”

It should be noted that one of Neighbors’ assistants is former East Central University standout Lacey Goldwire.

Ellis, who was named the 2018 Ada News All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year as a freshman, also said putting her collegiate choice behind her so early would allow her to focus on Vanoss basketball until she graduates.

“It was stressful having to call all these coaches. Getting it out of the way was a relief,” she said.

Vanoss head coach Jonathon Hurt said Ellis really liked the pitch that Neighbors and company gave her during her two visits.

“The coaches were genuine and honest with her. They were the type of people she wanted to be around,” he said.

Ellis started the season off battling a nagging knee injury that slowed her down and forced her to miss a little playing time. She said was glad to put that behind her, too.

Ellis had averaged over 16 points per outing over the last four VHS victories. She helped Vanoss win the Pontotoc Conference Tournament and had a big game in the Lady Wolves’ 60-55 win over Class 3A No. 4 Christian Heritage.

“My knee was slowing me down a lot. It was really frustrating. I couldn’t do what I knew I could do,” she said.

Ellis and the Lady Wolves will compete in the 2018 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Classic, which tips off at 3 p.m. today inside East Central University’s Kerr Activities Center. Vanoss will meet the Byng Lady Pirates in a local matchup at 8 p.m. tonight.

“We’re all excited about it. We feel honored for getting invited,” Ellis said. “It’s a huge tournament. I think if we play well, we can do really good in it.”

The tournament, sponsored by Vision Bank, runs through Saturday. Other teams in the field include Latta, Elgin, Kingston, Harrah, Anadarko and Hartshorne.

Saturday’s schedule begins at 11 a.m., with the championship game set for 4 p.m. For more information on the tournament and game updates, check out the new Mid-America website at www.bftmidamericaclassic.com.

Jeff Cali has been covering sports in the Ada area since the mid-90s. He graduated from Byng High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.