After his team defeated No. 6 Harker Heights on Tuesday, in a game it never trailed and led by as many as 15, Ellison coach Alberto Jones was wary of visiting Temple on Friday.
Temple doesn’t have a state ranking or even a winning record.
But Jones understood the Wildcats were not to be taken for granted.
“I’ve told my assistants, I said, ‘We’ve got to do a good job of getting them ready for (Temple),” Jones said a day before the game. “Not taking nothing away from Temple, but when you beat the No. 6 team in the state — and they’re kids — you’re going to expect a low.”
To a degree, Jones was proven right.
After scoring the first eight points of the game against Heights, the Eagles were slow out of the gates Friday against Temple, which went into the half leading 23-18.
But Ellison responded emphatically in the third quarter, scoring more points (20) than it had in the entire first half to take a 38-30 lead into the fourth quarter.
Ellison eventually went on to win 61-46, outscoring the Wildcats 43-23 in the second half.
After hitting just two field goals against Heights while primarily acting as a floor general, senior point guard Knigel Key became a scorer against Temple with 17 points.
Fellow senior Fred Jackson, who scored 12 in the second half against Heights, continued his hot play by matching Key with 17 points.
The Eagles (10-4) now stand at 2-0 in league play, a nice start to their district title defense and a big bounceback from a loss in the Pflugerville Panther Holiday Classic championship on the eve of the district season.
And for Jones, the second half against Temple was a nice response to his question heading into the game, having avoided a potential letdown.
Ellison plays in the Austin Akin Tournament on Friday.