Road wins in District 8-5A have come at a premium for Temple and Ellison this season, and each team’s playoff fate could hinge on the hard-to-come-by victories.
The Eagles got their first district road win of the season with a 56-40 victory over the Wildcats on Friday at Wildcat Gym and put a dent in Temple’s playoff hopes in the process.
The Wildcats (9-14, 3-6) are chasing their first playoff bid since 2008 and play three of their final five games on the road, including a contest at district co-leader and 10th-ranked Harker Heights on Tuesday.
“We’ve put ourselves in a position where we’re going to have to steal one or two on the road somewhere,” Temple head coach Marty Garcia said. “If we’re going to keep our playoff hopes alive, our next two games here at home we’re going to have to win and we’re going to have to find a way to steal one or two on the road somewhere.
“We were in a position where we we’re kind of controlling our own destiny and now, after not taking care of our business tonight, we’ve got to start depending on other people now.”
Temple kept the game tight early as a Davion Curtis 3-pointer gave the Wildcats a 7-6 advantage with 3:47 left in the first quarter. Temple’s only lead of the game lasted for a little more than two minutes before Ellison (14-11, 5-4) took a 10-7 lead into the second quarter.
Then Ronnie Edwards caught fire.
Edwards scored eight points in a 10-0 Ellison run that stretched the Eagles’ lead to 29-16 with 1:01 left in the half.
Ellison continued to pull away in the third as Edwards, who scored a game-high 25 points, scored the Eagles’ first three baskets of the period.
Ellison outscored the Wildcats 12-3 in the quarter and led 41-21 going into the fourth.
“We finally just started settling down,” Ellison head coach Alberto Jones Jr. said about the momentum shift. “We came up here kind of hyped and kind of excited. We just settled down and got the ball down low to Ronnie. Ronnie has been doing that for us all year. He’s been our workhorse all year.”
Wendale Washington, who led the Wildcats with 12 points, made two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter in an attempt to get Temple back in the game. The Wildcats, however, struggled to get much closer than 18 points in the fourth before buckets by Chris Minter and Jordan Lee in the final minute made it 56-40.
The Eagles’ size advantage was obvious as they outrebounded Temple 34-19 and scored all but three of their 21 field goals from close range. Ellison shot 50 percent (21 for 41) from the field and 65 percent (13 for 20) from the free throw line.
The Wildcats shot 35 percent (15 for 43) from the field, including a 5-for-18 mark from 3-point range, and 50 percent (5 for 10) from the line.
Temple had 16 turnovers to the Eagles’ 18.
“We just didn’t take care of the basketball,” Garcia said. “When you turn the ball over, you don’t give yourselves opportunities to go score. You hold Ellison to under 30 points in a half, you’re doing some good things on the defensive end. Bottom line is we didn’t take care of the basketball and they were just better than us tonight.”