Down seven with 2:21 to play, Copperas Cove had plenty reason to pack it in on the road Friday.
But the Lady Bulldawgs weren’t having any of that, pushing Ellison to the verge of defeat — only the defending district champions weren’t going to allow that either.
“They don’t want to lose,” Lady Eagle head coach Sherry McKinnon said. “They didn’t want to tie the ball game up. They have a goal, and they said it at the beginning of the season that they wanted to be the district champions.
“So, they were rattled a little bit, but they know how to win and they know how to win close games.”
After Cove pulled within a point in the final minute, Ellison junior Bri’anna Gray split a pair of free throws before Cove saw a potential game-winning 3-pointer hit the back iron to give the Lady Eagles a 48-46 victory at Ellison gymnasium.
Junior Jordanna Porter paced Ellison
with 21 points as the Lady Eagles (15-7, 5-0) remained perfect in District 8-5A play.
Cove, meanwhile, saw the momentum from a nondistrict victory against Harker Heights come to a screeching halt in the first half, only to battle back and nearly steal a district win on the road.
“It was a good fight,” Cove coach Eldridge McAdams said. “We looked at the stats and we were 1-for-15 in the paint in the first half, and we just came out and we knocked down shots that we were missing and we just fought.
“I knew that it was going to be a dogfight until the end, and you hate to lose, but you’ll take effort like that.”
A 9-0 run that began on a Porter 3-pointer with 37 seconds remaining in the first allowed Ellison to separate for the first time in the game, going up 25-14 early in the second.
After the Gray 3-pointer that put Ellison up nine, however, the Lady Eagles scored just one point in the final 6:09 of the first half.
Yet Ellison still went into the locker room up nine thanks to a stifling defense that held Cove without a field goal the entire second quarter.
The Lady Bulldwags were shut out in the final 3:04 of the second and shot just 23 percent in the first half.
“Overall, we did a good job until we got tired,” McKinnon said, “in the fourth quarter it showed up.”
Ellison continued to roll out of the locker room as Porter began the second half with a jumper followed by a steal and a layup for a 30-17 lead.
The junior finished with 10 rebounds to go with her 21 points and also added two steals and a block as she filled up the stat sheet.
“(It was just) getting rebounds and putting it back up, crashing the boards,” said Porter, who had 11 of her 21 in the first. “They weren’t really boxing out, so I felt like me taking advantage of that would help us get that early lead in the first quarter.”
Cove entered the fourth down 10 and began chipping away at the lead, getting as close as five before a driving layup by Porter made it 47-40 with 2:21 to play.
But the Lady Bulldawgs weren’t done, scoring the next six points to pull within 47-46 on a short jumper by Angel Mullen with 50 seconds to play.
Gray split a pair of free throws with 20 seconds remaining before Cove got its final shot, a 3-pointer by Kenya Haynes — who had two in the game — that missed with less than five seconds to play.
“I was really glad she didn’t make it because it looked like it was going in,” Porter said.
Instead, Ellison dodged a potential letdown and remained the only unbeaten team in an increasingly competitive District 8-5A.
Contact Jordan Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7562