By Angel Verdejo and Kevin Posival
The Cove Herald
Who knows how District 12-5A will shake out.
But after one game, Copperas Cove at least got the attention of one team that hasn't missed the playoffs since 1994.
"Cove's a good team - we knew that coming in," Ellison head coach Alberto Jones said moments after his Eagles held off Cove 62-57 in overtime Monday. "Cove's a team that's going to contend for a playoff spot. Those people that are saying those things about Cove, maybe they need to come cover Cove a couple times because Cove ain't no bottom dweller - I can't tell you that."
Ellison (9-7, 1-0) won the game, but by no means was it the same as last season's two double-digit wins over the Bulldawgs (8-7, 0-1).
But the Eagles have Devonte Brown, a seasoned three-year starter. The Indiana State signee hit a buzzer-beating jumper, sending the game into overtime, and then scored eight of Ellison's 10 points in the extra period.
The game-tying shot was necessary after Cove erased a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Twice, the Bulldawgs got consecutive layups from Jonathan Bridges and Juwan Rice, the first pair cutting Ellison's lead to two points early in the quarter.
The second tied the game. Bridges made it 50-48 with 3:11 left in the fourth quarter and a goaltending call on a Rice layin tied it 42 seconds later.
Cory Scott then put Cove ahead 52-50, hitting a jumper in the final minute.
Two more turnovers gave Ellison one last chance, with the ball in Brown's hands and seven seconds to play. Looking to either drive to the basket or find an open shooter, Brown pulled up just inside the 3-point line for the jumper as the buzzer sounded.
In overtime, Cove jumped out first (a Ricardo Artis three-point play) with an Anthony Forbes layup making it 55-54 with 2:44 left. Cove lost the ball on its next possession and Brown followed with the first of his eight free throws.
In between, Ellison forced another Cove turnover, while the Dawgs missed multiple looks under the basket.
"If we go out with that intensity and execute just a few more possessions better, we'll be fine," Cove head coach Billy White said. "We're going to go out here, we're going to play, we're going to bust people's butts for 32 minutes and we're going to come out with some of these victories."
Killeen 76, Copperas Cove 62 (last Friday) - At Killeen, far from a finished product, Killeen finished off Copperas Cove in the fourth quarter. The hangover from Killeen's 20-point win over the Bulldawgs less than three weeks ago lingered for three quarters, but the Runnin' Roos finally turned it on in the fourth.
Killeen missed 21 layups in the first three quarters and squandered a 22-13 first-quarter lead, but hit 10 of 13 from the field in the fourth to pull away and stay away.
"That just shows the lack of focus we had throughout the first three quarters," Killeen coach Jason Fossett said of the Roos fourth-quarter effort. "I think we looked up and thought, 'Cove might beat us,' and we decided to play like we're supposed to play."
Killeen led just 52-45 at the start of the fourth quarter but hit seven of its first eight shots of the period - all at or around the rim - to take a 66-56 lead after Tashawn Thomas' putback with 4:16 left.
A Juwan Rice three-pointer with 3:24 left cut the lead to seven, but the Bulldawgs hit just 2-of-13 after that, taking themselves out at the end and spoiling Jonathan Bridges' final game at Killeen, where he went to school before transferring to Cove as a sophomore.
"I just wanted to win and that was all. We all wanted to win." Bridges said.
The Bulldawgs lost to Killeen, 73-53, in the championship game of the Marble Falls McDonald's Classic on Dec. 4 but had since won four of five games going into Friday.
"We hit a few more shots this game and played a little harder this game and that's something we wanted to make sure that we did coming into it, was coming in and make sure we played hard and compete," Copperas Cove coach Billy White said.
Outsized by Killeen, Cove was outrebounded 51-31 but managed to hang around despite the disparity because the Roos missed opportunities in the paint and on the free throw line. Killeen went 11-of-26 at the charity stripe.