There were 12.4 seconds left to play on Tuesday night at Ellison High School. After a marvelous back-and-forth district battle, Ellison and Killeen were tied at 54.
Ellison had possession and junior Malik Malone tossed the inbounds pass to Shannon Bogues.
“I was thinking that, no matter what, we just needed to take a smart shot,” said Bogues, a junior.
Bogues tossed a clean pass to senior point guard Knigel Key. There were six seconds left.
Key was in 3-point land — where he had drilled two first-half treys — so he was well guarded.
Sophomore guard Isaiah Stevenson was open 16 feet from the bucket.
“I had confidence in Isaiah all the way,” said Key. “He knocks down that shot in practice all the time.”
Stevenson took Key’s pass and, one second later, a Killeen defender squared up with Stevenson. There were two
seconds left to play.
“I got the ball and then I pump-faked the defender,” said Stevenson. “He jumped in the air.”
“That head fake by Isaiah was the key,” said Ellison head coach Alberto Jones Jr. “That’s what created the opening for him.”
With one second on the clock, Stevenson let fly a 16-footer.
“To me,” said Stevenson, “it looked like it was going in right from the start.”
It did. Straight in. Swish.
The horn went off, Ellison had itself a 56-54 win and the Eagles went bonkers, dog-piling on top of Stevenson.
“This was a classic, clean rivalry game,” said Killeen head coach Reggie Huggins. “You just want to play hard in a game like this and we did play hard. Unfortunately, we lost. But this is clearly a great rivalry.”
Killeen fell to 2-2 in district play, 15-7 overall. Ellison upped its district record to 3-1 (12-8 overall).
For Killeen, Damarius Cress and Brian Long each scored 10 points, Mikell Clark nine and Melvin Anthony six.
For Ellison, Key scored 10 points, Ronnie Edwards had nine, Bogues eight, Malone seven, and Fred Jackson and Stevenson each had six.
“I thought it was a well-played game by both teams,” said Jones. “We made some mistakes and they just made a few more mistakes than us. But we had lost four of our last five and so we needed this game. We had to come out here and play hard and, for the most part, we did.”
Ellison led 16-11 after one quarter. Killeen stormed back with an impressive second frame, and the score was tied at 32 with two seconds left in the half.
Kangeroos 5-foot-10 junior guard Dadrien Moore took an inbounds pass, dribbled to half-court and let it fly.
And that shot swished, so Killeen led 35-32 at the break.
“I felt bad because I had let my man score on the play before,” said Moore. “So I was thinking that I needed to do something clutch for my team. I actually make those shots most of the time in practice when we’re goofing around. I was glad that shot gave us a boost.”
After five third-quarter lead changes, Killeen was up 45-44 with one minute left in the frame. Then Ellison 6-3 junior forward Shaqur Martin scored over a double-team.
With just one second left in the quarter, Martin scored on an O-board putback and the Eagles led 48-45 heading into the final frame.
“Those plays by Martin were huge for us,” said Stevenson. “He’s a wild man on the floor. He’s crazy and he gives us so much energy.”
To go along with his four points, Martin had a team-high eight rebounds.
“My role on this team is to get rebounds, hustle and keep everyone psyched up,” said Martin. “And when I scored those two baskets late in the third quarter, it got our team going and the crowd going. That’s all I want to do — help our team win.”
Bogues canned a running 12-foot floater with 2:54 left in the contest, giving Ellison a 52-49 edge. Bogues extended that lead to 54-49 with a short turnaround jumper at the 1:58 mark.
Killeen hit three free throws then, with 16 seconds to play, Cress made a steal, drove three-quarters court, canned a layin and this contest was tied.
Which set up Stevenson’s game-winning shot.
“Hitting that shot tonight was a surreal experience,” said Stevenson. “In my life, in all the games I’ve ever played, that shot tonight is the most important I’ve ever hit. It’s No. 1.”
Contact Allan Mandell at email@example.com or 254-501-7566 and read his blog on KDHPressbox.com