Many freshmen go unnoticed. Elafayette Stone is an exception.
Standing 6-foot-8, the Copperas Cove post is one of only a few freshmen in the area to work their way onto a varsity roster, but just a few games into his high school career, he is already making an impression on his coach.
“I am so proud of him,” Bulldawgs head coach Billy White Jr. said. “(Assistant coach Courtney) Jackson is working really hard with him, and that kid is a sponge. He is picking up everything we are trying to teach him.”
Stone made an immediate impact in his debut performance.
In the season opener against Hendrickson, Stone was a perfect 6 for 6 from the floor en route to 17 points and a team high-tying six rebounds. His point total was five shy of matching teammate Rashard Odomes’ game-high 22 points, and his nine-point outburst in the fourth quarter helped secure a 86-56 victory.
On Tuesday, he produced another strong showing, finishing with seven points, including the game’s final three points as Copperas Cove surged to a 92-79 win against La Vega.
With the victory, the Bulldawgs improve to 3-6 heading into Tuesday’s game at No. 11 Austin LBJ.
Despite sporting a 1-2 record, the defending District 26-4A champions were highly ranked in the recent Texas Association of Basketball Coaches’ Class 4A poll and should pose a serious challenge for Copperas Cove.
Regardless of opponent, White believes Stone will be a major factor for the Bulldawgs in the team’s upcoming games and seasons.
“I’m so proud of what he’s accomplished so far,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to what the future holds for him.”
Grey Wolves focus on defense
For the Shoemaker Grey Wolves a couple of hours and a day of practice made a big difference when it came to defending their own basket, especially in the second half.
After beating Pflugerville Hendrickson 73-61 on Monday, the Grey Wolves knew they had to go back and emphasize defense for their matchup two days later with Midland.
On Wednesday, a more intense defensive showing led to an easier win as the Grey Wolves blew out the Bulldogs 74-49.
“We were going over defense hard the whole day,” Shoemaker post senior Shane Johnson said. “We were preaching D and it showed a little, but we’ve still got more D to go.”
Despite beating the Hawks by double digits, first-year Shoemaker head coach Emund Prichett said that the team needed to improve on the defensive end.
In the second half of the win over Hendrickson, the Hawks shot 48 percent from the field (12 of 25); the Grey Wolves held them to only three offensive rebounds and forced nine turnovers.
The Bulldogs may have managed 10 points in less than six minutes, but after that, points were harder to come by.
Midland did not score more than 15 points in any quarter and ended up shooting only 39 percent from the field (19 for 48),
Shoemaker held Midland to 7 percent (1 of 13) from the field. The Grey Wolves also hauled in 18 defensive rebounds to Midland’s seven offensive rebounds and scored 12 points off 15 turnovers.
“We focused on defense the last couple of practices and we’ll continue to do it,” Prichett said. “It still isn’t exactly where we want it to be, but I guess it’s still good for three or four games in.”
— Albert Alvarado
Ellison boys show flash of dominance against Dragons
Ellison coach Alberto Jones freely admitted after the Eagles’ 70-33 win against Round Rock that it might not be fair to expect that level of dominance, which included a 17-0 first-quarter run, every game.
But Tuesday was an example of what can happen when the Eagles play with the type of intensity Jones was looking for from his team in its first two games.
In going up 31-5 by the 5:59 mark in the second quarter, Ellison did it all.
The Eagles dominated the paint on both ends of the floor, hit perimeter shots and controlled the pace of the game.
Ellison also showed a bit of its depth as Jones did mass substitutions for most of the game.
Shaqur Martin, playing in his season debut, was the star of the bench, scoring a team-high 15 points while also bringing energy and rebounding.
So while Ellison may not expect to rip off 17-0 runs in each of its games this season, the Eagles seem to believe Tuesday was an example of how good they can be when they bring the effort that Jones expects.
— Jordan Mason
Lometa boys unconcerned with ranking
After losing two games at the Fantasy of Lights Tournament in Wichita Falls, No. 17 Lometa is in jeopardy of falling out of the TABC’s Class 1A, Division II rankings for the first time this season.
Hornets head coach Aaron Nuckles does not care, though.
“Right now, our complete focus is getting better for (our district opener on) Dec. 20,” he said.
Playing shorthanded due to the Thanksgiving holiday, Lometa lost its first two games at the 34th annual tournament, which consisted of a 16-team field fighting for the small school championship.
The Hornets fell to Haskell 63-52 in the opening round before losing to Petrolia 67-47 on Friday.
Lometa rebounded by defeating Wichita Falls HEAT 48-33 behind a game-high 22 points from senior wing Eric Nichols, who topped the 20-point plateau for the third time this season.
Despite Saturday’s bounce-back performance, the Hornets take a 3-2 overall record into Tuesday’s game against Marble Falls Faith Academy.
The new TABC rankings will be revealed today, but regardless of where the Hornets are positioned, Nuckles feels his team gained valuable experience at the tournament.
“We are much improved from our trip,” he said. “Playing bigger schools makes us better as long as our kids attack it with an open mind.”
— Clay Whittington
Salado boys still looking to improve after win
After winning a chess match against Lampasas on Tuesday, in which Salado solved not one but multiple defenses in the Badgers’ vast repertoire, coach Kenny Mann still saw room for improvement in his No. 24 Eagles.
“If we were shooting well,” Mann said, “we’d be undefeated instead of that loss that we have.”
Salado shot 48 percent from the floor in a 64-44 win against Lampasas, which certainly isn’t a bad blip.
But subtract Preston Rosebrock and his 70 percent shooting from the win and the Eagles’ team percentage dips to 42 percent.
Not that the Eagles are complaining about what they got from Rosebrock on a magical night for the sophomore.
Rosebrock was a scorching 4 for 5 from 3-point range en route to putting up a team-high 18 points Tuesday.
But after the game, Mann saved his highest praise for the players who didn’t show up in the box score.
“The guys that are not getting as much playing time have great attitudes — they’re being great team players — and that’s usually important for a team to be cohesive,” Mann said. “So, those guys are our aces right now. They’re holding everything together with just great attitudes and practicing hard.”
The Knights will continue to work on hitting more open jumpers and finishing at the rim.
But after Tuesday, they certainly feel good about the cohesiveness and spirits of a team coming off an impressive win against a Class 3A foe.
— Jordan Mason
Lady Wolves’ bench plays well in loss
The final score may not show it, but the Shoemaker Lady Wolves’ supporting cast managed to have a strong game in a 71-36 loss to Round Rock Cedar Ridge on Tuesday.
Despite losing to the 12th-ranked team in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll, Jicara Quinn and the rest of the Shoemaker nonstarters provided offensive output.
Quinn led all Lady Grey Wolves scorers with 10 points while Yeritza Valentin scored four, Mikayla Gatewood added three and Kaitlyn Brown chipped in six.
“We can go to our bench and we can have players come off the bench that are productive,” Shoemaker coach Lori Shead said. “Even though we have some youngsters on the bench, they’re able to come out and make things happen.”
The Shoemaker bench scored 63 percent (23) of the 36 total points the Lady Grey Wolves put up against the Lady Raiders.
— Albert Alvarado