BELTON — They may not live and die by the 3-pointer, but when the Belton Lady Tigers are cooking, the triples are falling.
They rained down the treys early on to put District 8-5A-leading Ellison on its collective heels.
It didn’t hold up, though, as the Lady Eagles overcame the Lady Tigers’ nine 3’s and pulled away to a 51-41 victory Friday night at Tiger Gym.
Ellison (20-7, 9-0) maintains a comfortable three-game lead on the district with five left to play. Belton (8-14, 3-6) is still in the playoff race, but drops two games behind both Temple and Killeen.
“It wasn’t just missing shots as much as it was turning the ball over,” said Belton coach Brenda Gomez. “(Ellison) is scrappy and they get after you. We didn’t play defense as intensely until the second half.”
Belton jumped out to a 17-13 lead through the first quarter, sparked by four treys — two from Kinsey Williams and one apiece from Emily Hugo and Blair Gilbert. Williams scored eight of her team-high 19 points in that frame.
“They started off strong setting those screens and making threes,” said Ellison coach Sherry McKinnon.
The Lady Tigers led 22-16 early in the second after another Williams 3 and a Gilbert bucket. Then more than six minutes passed without a point.
In that time, the Lady Eagles ran off 14 straight to go up 30-22. Ellison locked down on defense and only allowed Belton to get off five shot attempts in that time.
Jordanna Porter, Madison Hattix-Covington, Francesca Patrick and Brianna Gray all contributed points during the run to put the Lady Eagles in the lead.
Belton’s Aubrianna Garcia ended the scoreless drought with 22 seconds left in the half with her lone triple for a 30-25 difference.
The Lady Tigers didn’t fade, at least not immediately. Down 32-25, the Lady Tigers ran off eight straight points to briefly regain the lead. Williams sandwiched her fourth and fifth 3-pointers around two Gilbert free throws to make it 33-32 at the 4:05 mark of the third.
Belton went scoreless the rest of a low-scoring quarter and Porter, who scored all six of Ellison’s third-quarter points and led all scorers with 23, put the Lady Eagles back on top 36-33 going into the fourth.
“Jordanna played well inside and outside,” McKinnon said. “She handles the ball really well. If you stop her inside, she can pull up and hit the jumper.”
Belton’s scoring drought carried into the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, which gave the Lady Eagles the opportunity to build a sizeable lead.
Hattix-Covington got inside for a bucket, Nadia Carter canned a trey and Naomi Burnette converted a three-point play before Williams ended the Ellison run with an easy layup for a 44-35 score with 4:36 left.
The Lady Tigers were unable to make headway on the Ellison advantage.
Belton came off a tough 35-33 loss to Harker Heights on Tuesday and Gomez was much happier with the Friday effort.
“I’ll take this game over the Tuesday game,” she said. “I’ll take a 10-point loss in which we played with good effort.
“We just have to clean up the turnovers and I think we can do that with experience.”