COPPERAS COVE — Elijah Sobers owes everything to his dad.
As a young boy, Sobers would always watch his father play basketball. He sat on the sidelines during games, studying his movements and behaviors. Away from the court, he digested all his wisdom of the game.
Now, as a starter at Copperas Cove, Sobers is one of the team’s emotional leaders, using his passion for the sport and never-say-die attitude to feed his relentless style of play.
And he owes it all to his father, Javier Sobers.
“He is just an inspiration,” the senior said. “He taught me everything I know. He taught me how to be a hard worker even when nobody else is working hard. I’ve still got to work hard. It has all just built on and built on.
“He is who inspires me to play basketball, and he has ever since I was little.”
Standing at 6-foot-2, Sobers is willing to do anything to help his team win, and over time, he has developed a knack for producing timely, key plays that often go underappreciated. Whether taking a charge when the Bulldawgs desperately need a defensive stop, grabbing a late offensive rebound that leads to a second-chance shot or diving on the floor just in the hope of forcing a jump ball, Sobers sacrifices everything for his team.
“He is a hard-nosed player,” Copperas Cove head coach Billy White Jr. said. “He is a hard-working kid, who is going to give you his all, regardless of what is going on, any time he is on the court. That is big for us, because he always seems to step up in times when we need it.”
On Friday, Sobers finished with 12 points, three rebounds and two assists in a 66-41 victory against Belton, helping the Bulldawgs remain in the playoff hunt following a rocky start to District 8-5A play.
Leading 28-25 at halftime, Sobers scored five points in the third quarter, making layups that sandwiched the breakaway period for Copperas Cove. After Belton junior Coby Potvin connected on a 3-pointer to tie the score 32-32, Sobers scored a momentum-swinging layup, forcing the Tigers to call a timeout, trailing 36-32.
But there was nothing they could do.
The Bulldawgs outscored Belton 26-12 in the third quarter with Sobers’ successful and-one free throw in the final minute propelling Copperas Cove to a 53-37 lead.
For Sobers, timing is everything.
“It feels really good whenever you realize that you did what you were supposed to do when you were supposed to do it and it really helped the team,” he said. “If we are in a tight game, and we need a defensive rebound and there are only a couple seconds left, then I have to be the one to get that rebound. It just comes to me like that, and I’ve got to do it.”
The effort does not go unnoticed by White.
“You have to have players like that,” he said. “Fortunately, we have a few kids who are like that on our team, and they always seem to find themselves in the right spots.
With a 4-5 district record (13-13 overall), the Bulldawgs are on the verge of potentially reaching the playoffs for a second consecutive season after suffering through a postseason drought stretching back to 2008.
Sobers intends to do whatever it takes over the remaining five games of the regular season to ensure he concludes his high school career in the playoffs, but, more importantly, he wants to contribute in any way he can. It is simply the ethic his father engrained in him and the responsibility he learned to embrace.
“My dad always taught me to just play my game,” he said. “He’d tell me to just play my game, do what I’m supposed to do, and eventually it will come to me, and I’ll know my role. Over time, it just came up out of me.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org