In any district, particularly one as difficult as District 8-5A, the most important game is the next one.

That said, you have to figure a certain date is circled on the calendar for both Harker Heights hoops teams now: Jan. 21.

That is when both squads will have the first chance to exact revenge against Ellison after deflating losses Tuesday.

Not to say that either team is overlooking dates with Shoemaker, who both face off today, or suddenly-hot Killeen, who both face off Jan. 17, or anyone else in between.

But no one else in between is the defending district champion like the Ellison boys and girls.

And most importantly, no one else, to this point, has delivered the Knights and Lady Knights a loss like the ones Ellison handed out Tuesday.

The losses were neither one-sided nor devastatingly close, but both were tantalizing reminders that both teams can be in the district champion conversation.

But Tuesday, both Ellison teams reminded that they are the defending champions of 8-5A.

At Ellison, the Knights fell behind 8-0 while being shut out for the first 5:22 of the game, which the Eagles led by eight at the half and by as many as 15 in the second half.

Then No. 6 Heights showed why it had that lofty ranking in the first place, mounting a furious rally that it nearly completed in a game it seemed out of at the start of the fourth quarter.

A big reason was the long-range shooting of senior Josh DeLaney, who led the Knights with 21 points, including a pair of big 3-pointers with Heights clawing back in the fourth.

On one hand, Heights ought to be encouraged that it was within one possession of the Eagles in the final seconds of a game where it played disjointed basketball for long stretches and saw many of its stars essentially neutralized.

But the Knights aren’t happy with any loss, and Tuesday was no different.

The same applies to the Lady Knights, who fell behind 29-18 at the half against Ellison after scoring just five points in the second quarter.

But the Lady Knights pulled within single digits by the end of the game, refusing to quit much the same way they did in a 67-66 come-from-behind win against Killeen just four days earlier.

Heights matched its 2012 district win total with that victory against Killeen but was far from content to be one of two unbeatens in District 8-5A at that point.

Likewise, they figure to be unsatisfied with pushing Ellison at home.

The goal is to beat Ellison, the defending district champion and now the district leader at this point in the season.

The Knights and Lady Knights will have plenty of opportunities to keep pace with, and perhaps even surpass, Ellison as district play continues.

But after Tuesday it was hard to imagine the Heights boys and girls weren’t marking off January 21 on the calendar for the next time that get a shot at laying claim to 8-5A supremacy.

Contact Jordan Mason at or 254-501-7562​

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