Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Former Lincoln star Breanna Hayden gives Madison hope after shock transfer
The last month has been business as usual for the district-demolishing Lincoln girls basketball team. Since a six-point win over Skyline in the title game of the DISD/Coca-Cola Tournament, there haven’t been any dramatic finishes.
But there has been some drama.
The player who helped Lincoln beat Skyline, star guard Breanna Hayden, is no longer with the team. The junior is playing for Madison, two miles northwest of Lincoln in South Dallas.
“It was a great surprise,” Madison coach Olivia Williams said.
No kidding. Hayden, a 5-9 guard whom ESPN HoopGurlz lists as the state’s No. 6 recruit in the Class of 2013, is a do-it-all player. It showed when she averaged 16 points, 6.4 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 3.4 steals in a five-game run in the DISD/Coca-Cola Tournament.
It’s a great transfer for Madison, but “surprise” is the better description of it. Hayden was playing for the state’s No. 2 team in Class 4A, a juggernaut she led to the state semifinals last year, but transfered to a 3A team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2005.
What’s going on?
“You’d have to ask somebody else about that,” said Lincoln coach Michael Ensley, who has guided the Lady Tigers to three state titles since 1999. “I’d rather just talk about the girls who are at Lincoln now.”
Fair enough, since Ensley still has a talented, experienced team that can win a state title. So I talked with Donnell Hayden, Breanna’s father.
Breanna had been living with her grandparents in the Lincoln enrollment boundary, he said. But she wasn’t able to live there anymore because of her grandmother’s health and the grandparents’ financial concerns. They wouldn’t be able to drive her to school anymore, so Donnell Hayden wanted his daughter to live at his home near Madison.
“We needed somewhere where Bre could just walk to school,” he said.
And they couldn’t wait until after the season. So after Lincoln won the DISD/Coca-Cola Tournament on Dec. 29, Hayden withdrew from Lincoln and enrolled at Madison.
Hayden said she likes her new team, which is loaded with girls she played with in middle school. It’s what’s best for her, she said. And Donnell Hayden insisted that the transfer has nothing to do with a problem at Lincoln or a disagreement with the coach.
“Coach Ensley and I, we’re fine,” Donnell Hayden said. “I love Lincoln. It’s been great to my family.”
The Hayden family has also been great for Lincoln basketball. The tournament MVP for Lincoln’s 4A champs in 2008 was Kimetria Hayden, Breanna’s older sister, who now starts for Baylor.
Breanna Hayden couldn’t play until 15 days after enrolling at Madison, as the University Interscholastic League requires. But her transfer paperwork was signed, and she was approved by the district executive committee.
“There were no red flags,” Donnell Hayden said.
Of course not. Hayden wasn’t transferring to Lincoln, which is now 26-0. She was transferring from a powerhouse to a team that had lost to Lincoln by 56 points back in December. That kind of transfer is about as rare as a full-length, buzzer-beating swish.
But Hayden said she’s determined to do something special at Madison (17-9, 8-1 in District 12-3A). She’s averaging 25.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game for her new team, which can claim its first district title in more than a decade by beating Wilmer-Hutchins (19-5, 6-3) on Tuesday night.
Madison’s only district loss this season was to Carrollton Ranchview (21-5, 7-2), and that came when Hayden wasn’t eligible. Last week, Hayden scored 37 points as Madison beat Ranchview, 64-55.
“Before I could play, I was telling them to hang in there,” Hayden said of her Madison teammates, “and letting them know that they had help coming.”
They sure did. In a big, unusual way.
SPORTSDAY’S GIRLS RANKINGS
Guard Breanna Hayden left unbeaten Lincoln, the area’s top 4A girls basketball team, for Madison so she could be nearer to school. Now Madison is inching up the 3A rankings and seeking its first playoff win in seven years.
2. Mansfield Summit
3. West Mesquite
4. Frisco Wakeland
6. Arlington Seguin
7. Royse City
8. Denton Ryan
9. Keller Timber Creek