By Angel Verdejo and Alex Byington
The Cove Herald
KILLEEN - For nearly two decades, Ellison has had Copperas Cove's number.
But through the first three quarters Tuesday evening, it appeared the Bulldawgs might snap their 33-game winless drought to the Eagles.
Trailing 40-34 with less than three minutes left in the third, Ellison went back to basics - playing sound defense.
"That right there was a gut check for everybody, that's when we settled down and just played defense, and that's what got us started," senior guard Devonte Brown said.
Forcing five turnovers and pulling down seven rebounds over the next seven minutes, the Eagles (16-10, 6-2 12-5A) went on an 11-0 run for their first lead since late in the first quarter and rallied for the 55-45 victory.
"They switched up on us a little bit, did a little half-court trap and at first we didn't adjust to it well, and then once we got it going, we just didn't put the ball in the bucket," Cove coach Billy White said.
The win kept Ellison's hold on the No. 2 spot in district, one game ahead of Bryan (15-10, 5-3), which beat crosstown rival A&M Consolidated also on Tuesday.
Struggling to get anything going offensively for much of the game, Ellison locked down the paint in the fourth quarter.
Jaleel Williams scored six of his game-high 14 while Brown pulled down six of his 16 rebounds to go along with 11 points as four Eagles reached double digits.
"We just had to play through it," Williams said. "... (Ellison coach Alberto Jones) was was like, 'Fourth quarter is what counts, so are ya'll going to fold, or are you going to play?' So we came out ready to play and got the victory."
Getting hard points in the lane, sophomore Ojay Black had 12 points while senior post David Cobb added 11.
"It was a team effort tonight," Brown said. "The team on the boards, the team getting to the free throw line, it was straight team everything."
On the other side of the court, the Bulldawgs (14-13, 2-6) couldn't buy a fourth-quarter bucket. Cove shot just 2-for-12 from the floor and 0-for-7 from beyond the arc - including 0-for-5 from senior Ricardo Artis, who tied Juwan Rice with a team-high 13 points.
A physical game throughout, it was Cove's defense early that limited Brown to five points in the first half as the Bulldawgs led 25-24.
After a back-and-forth third quarter, the Eagles trailed 40-39 entering the fourth and put the clamps on defensively. They forced turnovers on Cove's first three possessions, while making shots on their end.
Black struck with a hard layup, followed by a rebound and putback by Williams on his own miss, and capped the 11-0 run with an exclaimation point - a backdoor dunk to go ahead 46-40 with 4:35 left.
Copperas Cove 59, Temple 54 (Jan. 21) - Billy White sent a message to a few of his normal starters last Friday.
"Just to make a point - we had some guys show up late to some things, so we had to change it up," the Copperas Cove head coach said.
Ricardo Artis was one of those who didn't make the starting lineup. But when the Bulldawgs needed him, the senior delivered.
Artis didn't score until the final seconds of the third quarter, but his 13 points helped Cove erase a double-digit deficit and hold off Temple 59-54 at home.
"I realized I have to keep working - my spot's not guaranteed," said Artis, who had six rebounds.
With a minute left in the third quarter, a Shaquille White jumper put Temple ahead 50-37. The Wildcats were on a 22-8 run, giving everyone in the gym a reason to forget about the back-and-forth first half. The Dawgs went four one-shot possessions without scoring, with Juwan Rice hitting two free throws to stop the bleeding. Jonathan Bridges then stole an errant Temple pass and found Artis for a layup with 7.2 seconds left in the quarter. The bucket cut Temple's lead to nine (50-41), and set up Artis' big fourth-quarter performance.
"Ricardo did what Ricardo can do," White said. "He's huge and the dude can play."
Artis opened the fourth with a 3-pointer, making it a six-point game. The teams traded baskets then turnovers before Artis bookended a Cory Scott layup with two of his own, the second giving Cove a 52-50 lead with 4:24 to play and forcing a Temple timeout.
"They needed me to play," Artis said.
The Wildcats turned it over after the break, and though Artis missed on the other end, he came back with a steal and found Scott for a layup and 4-point Dawg lead. Rice, who led Cove with 17 points, made it 58-54 with a minute to go, and Cove had a chance to stretch it out when Temple's Volney Willis was called for traveling on the other end. After two timeouts, Cove's Robert King went to the line but missed the foul shot.
Temple quickly went down the floor, and after a missed 3-pointer, Andre Schooley went up for the follow. Artis jumped as well, blocking the shot and bringing the Cove fans to their feet.
"It always starts off in the third quarter when we go into a drought," Artis said. "But the new story of Copperas Cove is we come back and we're going to play hard regardless of who we're playing against."