HARKER HEIGHTS — The sound thundered across the Harker Heights gym.
After falling behind 10 early Tuesday, Malik Malone had emphatically brought Ellison within two on a left-handed slam along the baseline as the visitors’ side roared in approval.
But No. 10 Harker Heights, who lost to Ellison to open district play, wasn’t ready to give up its stranglehold on first place in District 8-5A.
Josh DeLaney fed Pat Everette on the next possesion for a layup plus the foul as Heights went on an 11-2 run and never looked back in a 66-52 win Tuesday.
“This was a big game for everybody,” said Heights senior Cameron DeLaney, who scored 21 points to lead all scorers. “I’m happy we came together as a team and pushed it out and got the win, and we all stepped up when we needed to step up.”
The win avenged the Knights’ only district loss this season, setting up a first place-second place showdown Friday when Heights visits Shoemaker.
After Heights’ run, the closest Ellison got was six, eventually falling to 4-4 in league play.
Despite the loss, Ellison head coach Alberto Jones Jr. was encouraged by the Eagles’ play after they fell behind 20-9 by the start of the second quarter.
“I told the kids, this is a tough feat coming into Heights, beating Heights at Heights after you beat them one time — that’s not an easy thing to do,” Jones said. “So, take the first three minutes out the equation and a couple plays here, a couple plays there, I thought we played OK, and I’m encouraged going into the next six games.”
Just as Ellison blitzed Heights in the teams’ first meeting at Ellison, Heights went up 11-2 on its home floor on a DeLaney corner 3-pointer with 3:58 remaining in the first.
Not even a minute later, Heights went up 14-4 as twin brother, Josh, fed Cameron for a 3-pointer again.
But after entering the second down by 11, Ellison ripped off a 7-0 run, which Malone capped with a pull-up floater as he was fouled to pull Ellison within 20-16.
Malone also contributed with his defense, drawing an offensive foul against C.J. Bobbitt to send the Heights star to the bench with his third personal at the 5:15 mark.
Fifty-seven seconds later, after being blocked on the same baseline the possession before, Malone turned down a Fred Jackson screen and drove baseline again, only this time finishing with a one-handed flush that pulled Ellison within a basket, 25-23.
“Malik can play,” Jones said of Malone, who scored 10 points while coming off the bench for the second straight game. “He’s just been off lately and kind of been in a slump and kind of down, but he kind of got out of that a little bit today. But Malik can play.”
After the game, even the Heights players admitted the play was a bit of a wake-up call early in the contest.
“That was a spark,” Cameron DeLaney said. “It made us humble, and we turned it up on them.”
Heights regained control of the game with the 11-2 run, which was capped by Josh DeLaney hitting Roderick Taylor for a layup and a 36-25 lead with 1:02 to play in the first half. Josh and Bobbitt finished with 12 points each.
Ellison pulled within eight on an Isiah Jasey dunk in the final seconds of the first half, but was never quite able to get over the hump.
The Eagles cut the deficit to 45-39 on a Knigel Key pull-up jumper with 2:19 remaining in the third only for Cameron DeLaney to respond with one of his four 3-pointers on the night.
Ellison got to within eight with 2:32 to play and also with 48 seconds to play, but was never able to get closer.
“That’s just maintaining,” Heights coach Celneque Bobbitt said.
And afterwards, Bobbitt was happy seniors like DeLaney got to avenge the loss to Ellison while playing the Eagles for the last time.
And it certainly didn’t hurt the former Killeen Kangaroo either.
“I told the guys we could have gave away any of them,” Bobbitt said. “But I don’t want to be on a slide with Ellison.”
Contact Jordan Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7562