"She had nothing but encouraging things to say to me about us going to the state tournament," the coach said. "She was a true friend."
DeTeena "Teena" Rochelle Bender, 41, died Thursday in Baldwyn following a lengthy battle against cancer. At the time of her death, she was employed as a paralegal.
"Her death is a great blow to Baldwyn," said McKay, who was a classmate of Bender's during their basketball-playing days at Baldwyn High School. "She was a tremendous person, a person of character who tried to bring out the best in everybody."
Bender was a two-time Daily Journal Player of the Year, winning the honor in 1986 and '87, and was a three-time selection on the Journal's All-Area Team, including her sophomore season in '85.
A player known more for her finesse than power, she dominated opponents on the high school courts, averaging 22 points and 14 rebounds per game for the Lady Bearcats.
"She was a very smart basketball player who could score in a lot of different ways," McKay said. "She was good in all areas of the game. She could score, rebound, defend and had a good mid-range jumper.
"She had no weaknesses as a player or a person."
She later signed a national letter of intent with Ole Miss, where was a four-year starter and played every position in the Lady Rebels' lineup from 1988 through '91. She left Ole Miss as one of the program's all-time high-percentage shooters.
Her 7-for-7 (100 percent) shooting game against Florida International University is a school record and remains the top performance, shooting percentage-wise, by a women's player in the history of FIU's U.S. Century Bank Arena.
"Teena was a tremendous person," said Ole Miss executive associate athletics director Lynnette Johnson, who served as the Lady Rebels' athletic trainer during Bender's playing days. "She was a competitor on and off the court and Teena used that quality throughout her life. She will be missed by the Ole Miss family."
Services for Bender are scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Mount Nebo C.M.E. Church in Baldwyn. Visitation is scheduled for 2 to 7 p.m. Monday at Agnew and Sons Funeral Home in Baldwyn.
Survivors include her mother, Evelyn Bender; one sister, Shandra Bender Duffy and one brother, Willie Bender Jr.
She was preceded in death by her father, Willie Bender Sr., who was also her basketball coach in high school.