Ojai Black crossed over his dribble and shot into the lane with three seconds left. Tick.
Immediately pressed by two Temple defenders, the Ellison senior guard threaded a pass to Thomas Larry on the low-block.
Tick. Larry jumped up and over two Wildcats and threw down a two-handed dunk.
“I just saw an opening and I was cutting as Ojai was coming down the court, so I took it,” Larry said. “I didn’t know how much time was on the clock. I just went up caught it and dunked it. I don’t know who was under me, but they shouldn’t have jumped.”
It wasn’t a game winner for Ellison, but it might as well have been.
Larry’s throw-down slam capped a 26-9 first-quarter explosion for Ellison as it blew past Temple 74-35 on Friday and climbed back into first place in District 8-5A.
“Since we lost to (Harker) Heights, we knew the better team comes out and dominates the next game, so that is what we did,” Larry said. “We wanted to make a statement that if we lose, we don’t really get down about it. We just keep moving forward.”
Ellison (23-5, 8-1 8-5A) didn’t even need one of its leading scorers in the blowout win. Senior guard Malik Hawkins sat out the game with a twisted ankle, but is expected to play Tuesday.
Instead, the Eagles relied on another Malik — Malik Malone. Malone hit four 3-pointers and led all scorers with 19 points and Larry added 11 for the Eagles.
Temple (9-15, 1-8) had no answer for the Ellison pressing defense. It also had no way to stop the hot-shooting Eagles. Ellison shot 59 percent from the floor, including 46 percent from beyond the arc.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, were a disappointing 33 percent from the floor and 25 percent from 3-point range.
“They are just a hot team,” Temple coach Eric Jackson said. “They didn’t do anything. We just missed easy shots. Any time you miss easy shots and they get an opportunity to score it makes a big difference in the game.”
The score got even worse after halftime as Ellison’s depth was too much for Temple.
The Eagles’ bench was on the same hot streak as the starters — maybe even hotter. Fueled by a trio of 3-pointers by Malone, Ellison outscored Temple 20-1 in the third quarter, stretching the lead to more than 40 points (62-18).
“I just had confidence from my team to go out there and shoot it,” Malone said. “I hit the first two and they gave me more confidence and kept shooting. We are really deep,” Malone said. “We have a really good first group and the second group, we are big, but we still manage our way.”
Marquese Cooks, who led Temple with 11 points, hit a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, but it was far too late for the Wildcats to make any kind of run.
“I think this speaks highly of (how good we are),” Ellison coach Alberto Jones said. “They were down after that loss to Heights. ... Those were probably the two longest days ever. So, they were ready to get back on the court and they did a good job tonight.”