EDWARDSVILLE — Before the start of each of her four years at Edwardsville High School, one of Emmonnie Henderson's primary goals was to improve in certain aspects of basketball.
During the 2012-13 season, it was the mental game.
"Mentally, I was much better in handling my emotions and not getting as frustrated when I was getting double- and triple-teamed each night," Henderson said. "I mean it was frustrating at times, but I've just learned to look for my teammates when it happens.
"Basketball is a team game. It's not about me. It wasn't about Lauren (White). It wasn't about Kortney (Dunbar) and it wasn't about (Aaliyah) Covington. It was about what was best for the team and doing whatever was necessary to help the team be successful."
Throughout Henderson's four-year career, few teams in the state have been as successful as the Tigers.
In that time, Edwardsville won three Class 4A sectional titles, captured four undefeated Southwestern Conference championships and placed second in the 2012 Class 4A state tournament.
And helping to lead the way was the 6-foot, 2-inch Henderson, who completes her high school career as one of the top players in metro-east girls basketball history.
Ranked first in school history with 1,806 career points and more than 800 rebounds, Henderson will head to the University of Louisville next season, not only to play basketball but also to compete in track and field where she will throw the discus and shot put.
But she will always be an Edwardsville Tiger.
"It was really tough. The way it (the season) ended. It's really hard to believe that it (my high school career) is over and I'm about to go on to the next level,' Henderson said. "It's kind of a happy medium because I'm ready to move to the next phase of my life with new things and new people. But I'm going to miss coach (Lori) Blade an (assistant) coach (Donna) Farley.
"They both have treated me like their own child.''
During the 2012-13 season, Henderson was the best player on one of the best teams in the state. Averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds per game, Henderson helped lead Edwardsville to a 30-1 season.
And while the Tigers lost to Peoria Richwoods 41-36 in the title game of the Normal West Sectional, Henderson was the obvious choice as she captured her second straight Belleville News-Democrat Player of the Year honor.
Blade called Henderson a phenomenal athlete.
"Emmonnie made a big impact on our program all four years. That's all you can ask out of kids,'' Blade said "She's an excellent player and just a phenomenal athlete. I'm very blessed to have coached her and I think everyone around here has a deep appreciation for what she did and what she brought to the school.
"She can do it all on the basketball court. She's got some things to work on, but I think she's very excited about going to the next level and to see Louisville have the success that they are having just makes it even moreso. Hopefully we've done everything we can to help prepare her for the next level."
The Cardinals defeated Tennessee 86-78 on Tuesday in the title game of the Oklahoma City Regional to advance to the NCAA Women's Final Four on Sunday in New Orleans.
Louisville will take on California with the winner advancing to the national title game on Tuesday. Henderson said she watched the win over Tennessee and has tried to talk to her future teammates.
"I've tried to talk to a lot of them. I was really excited for them. That's my team,'' Henderson said. "They've got to play California. But they've got a good chance. Then they'll play the winner of the Notre Dame-Connecticut game.''
Edwardsville, which was ranked in the top 25 nationally by ESPN Rise for much of the season, rolled through 2012-13 unchallenged for most of the year.
But against Richwoods, the Tigers came up short.
"After I sat down and really thought about it. It just wasn't meant to be," Henderson said. "Everybody was talking about we were going to win, Edwardsville's going back to the state tournament. But if it's not in the cards, it's just not going to happen.
"I believe that God has a plan for us and it just wasn't in Gods plan for us this year.''
Henderson said there were many highlights during her career. She pointed to the night when she scored her 1,000th point and when Edwardsville won a Class 4A super-sectional and state tournament semifinal four days apart last March.
Not even a loss to national power (Chicago) Whitney Young could spoil the dream season of a year ago.
"Even though we lost the state title game, there was a time at the hotel when we were celebrating when we realized what we had accomplished," Henderson said. "That was a great moment."