His first year on varsity, Ojai Black got a lesson on leading by example from former Ellison star Devonte Brown, now a redshirt freshman at Indiana State.
Last year, Black was thrust into a crash course in leading as the lone returning letterman, almost reluctantly.
But as a senior, the Eagles shooting guard has finally accepted his place as “the man” to make plays when his team needs them most.
Black did that Friday when he contributed a game-high 26 points, including clinching a 58-49 victory over Shoemaker by sinking all eight of his free throws over the final 30 seconds on a 12-of-13 night from the charity stripe.
And Ellison (20-4, 5-0 8-5A) needed every point, especially with the way the Grey Wolves were blanketing fellow senior Malik Hawkins — the Robin to Black’s Batman — at the 3-point line.
So Black did was he does best, attacking the lane and either drawing fouls or hitting off-balance shots — sometimes both at once.
Black shot 7-of-13 from the field (54 percent), while the rest of the Eagles combined for just 13-of-40 (32.5 percent) shooting, and then did the rest at the free-throw line, accounting for 70.6 percent of Ellison’s points from the line.
In the end, though, the only stat that mattered was Black’s 26 points, which accounted for 45 percent of the Eagles’ offensive output — exactly what Ellison needed.
Liberty Hill loss creates opening for Badgers
Burnet might have helped Lampasas, but it did not do the Badgers any favors.
If Lampasas intends to follow through with its plan of winning the District 8-3A championship, it needed district favorite Liberty Hill to lose a couple games along the way. On Friday, the Badgers’ wish was granted as the Bulldogs upset No. 10 Liberty Hill 53-51 in both teams’ district opener.
The only problem for Lampasas is the Panthers (21-3, 0-1) are coming to town Tuesday, and they will most likely be looking to make a statement.
The Badgers (17-5, 1-0) can make a statement of their own, however, by beating the Panthers, who are 4-0 against Lampasas over the last two seasons, and will hold a share of the district lead if they win. Equally important to the victory, though, is the accompanying tiebreaker — something that could be extremely valuable down the line — the Badgers would earn.
Lady Roos facing long road stretch after difficult loss
By now, the Killeen Lady Roos have moved on from their 52-44 loss to No. 16 Temple.
With the Tem-Cats’ Mississippi State-signed senior Ketara Chapel out due to illness, the Lady Roos missed a chance to upset the undefeated district leader. But that chance is over.
They still have chances to get into the playoffs, but mired in a two-game district losing streak, they have to get out of their current tailspin while also facing a three-game road trip that begins Tuesday at Copperas Cove, the Lady Roos have to do a better job with their few remaining opportunities.
Killeen (14-10, 4-3 8-5A) lost to the Lady Dawgs 67-54 the first time the two teams met in Killeen on Dec. 12 in a game that was supposed to be played in Cove. Due to numerous bomb threats made a multiple CCISD campuses during that time, the district opener was moved to Killeen. Now, the Lady Roos have to travel to Cove to snap their district losing streak. After Cove, the Lady Roos play at Harker Heights and at Shoemaker.
Contact Alex Byington at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7566
Clay Whittington and Kevin Posival contributed to this report.