PFLUGERVILLE — For Ellison basketball coach Alberto Jones, there was no need to provide a big, emotional speech or deliver fire-and-brimstone type of talk to the team during the brief meeting between the end of regulation and overtime.
He simply told the team what it needed to hear before playing another four minutes against Pflugerville Connally.
“I told them that I thought we were the better team even though we had to go to overtime,” Jones said. “I always pick the better team in overtime
and I told them they just had to go out there and prove it.”
The brief words worked as Ellison (7-2) outlasted Connally 48-45 (5-5) during the Pflugerville Panther Holiday Classic on Thursday at the Pflugerville High gym.
Eagles center Frederick Jackson scored a game-high 16 points while power forward Ronnie Edwards added 15.
“It feels great,” Jackson said. “I had to depend on my team and myself and play hard because we were the better team. We just played harder than them to come out with the ‘W.’”
The win helps Ellison keep pace with Pflugerville Hendrickson for the top spot in the gold division. Ellison plays Austin at 10:30 a.m. then Hendrickson at 2 p.m. today.
Step up play
Jackson and Edwards came into the season as the two most experienced players on the team and Edward said that with the score tied at 40 and the game heading to overtime, it was their time to step up.
“We just said we have to calm down and play hard because we knew we could do this,” Jackson said.
Jackson started the extra period by taking a pass, putting his shoulder down, pivoting to his right past a Connally defender then throwing down a two-handed slam dunk to begin the scoring 19 seconds into overtime.
“It helps the momentum,” Edwards said about Jackson’s dunk. “It gets us going. Not only are we proud of him, but we want to get our own little moment to shine.”
Ellison held a three-point lead three different times in overtime, but Malik Malone put Ellison ahead to stay with a 3-pointer with 2:23 remaining.
Senior point guard Knigel Key gave the Eagles some extra breathing room by hitting the first of two free throws with 9.1 seconds remaining to make it 48-45 Ellison.
Although Connally had some time to answer, the Cougars could only manage two off-balance looks from the near side baseline as time expired.
The Eagles were able to avenge a 65-61 loss to the Cougars in the season opener.
“In the short time we’ve been playing this season we’ve matured as a team and we’ve got better chemistry,” Edwards said. “We started making plays, focusing and playing as a team.”
The fourth quarter was one of runs as Key opened the scoring with his first points of the game. Key’s 3-pointer put Ellison ahead 33-30 1:29 into the fourth.
Ellison opened the quarter with a 9-2 run, but Connally finished the period on an 8-1 run to force the extra session.
The Eagles had the final possession of the fourth quarter in the final minute, but a last-second jumper from the wing was too long and regulation ended with the score tied at 40 points apiece.
The Eagles got off to a great start as Malone opened the scoring by hitting a 3-pointer and Jackson capped a 7-0 run with a two-handed dunk that forced Connally to call timeout less than three minutes into the game.
But soon after that, the Eagles offense went on a cold streak.
Ellison made three of its first four shots of the game, but ended the first half shooting 37 percent (9 of 24).
Jackson and Edwards managed to score 17 of their combined 31 points after halftime as the Eagles were able to get the pair the ball more frequently and shots came easier as the game wore on.
“We made an effort to make sure they were getting the ball and we did a good job at that,” Jones said.
Contact Albert Alvarado at email@example.com