PFLUGERVILLE — The Pflugerville Hendrickson Hawks found out that when Malik Malone is on, they have no answer for him.
Malone’s game-high 28 points helped Ellison soar past the Hawks 68-58 to win its final pool play game at the Pflugerville Panther Holiday Classic at the Panther Gym on Friday.
“It’s not too many that can stop me,” said the junior small forward.
Ellison lost to the Austin Maroons 54-47 earlier in the day. The Eagles play in the championship game against the winner of the blue division at 7:30 tonight.
Malone showcased his skills during the second game of the doubleheader against Hendrickson as 10 of his points came in the fourth quarter.
“Right now we’re working on consistency with him,” Ellison coach Alberto Jones said. “Once he gets consistent with it, he’s going to be a good player.”
Ellison came into the fourth with a six-point lead and put Hendrickson away by holding the Hawks to 30 percent shooting (4 of 13) in the final eight minutes.
“We knew we had to get more boards and we had to stop them from going to the hole,” Malone said. “That secured the win.”
Power forward Ronnie Edwards scored a basket in the paint then hit a jumper to spark a 10-0 Ellison run in the final 2:50 of the third quarter to turn a four-point Hawks edge into a six-point Eagles advantage. Edwards had a strong game with 15 points.
Malone had some highlight quality plays in the fourth as a crossover at the 3-point line led to a drive to the basket that made it 50-42 Ellison with 6:52 remaining.
He followed that with a steal and pass to Knigel Key that led to a foul 15 seconds later.
Malone continued helping out teammates like Fredrick Jackson; dishing off to Jackson for a two-handed dunk then connecting with him on an alley-oop layup that made it 62-56 with 1:40 remaining.
“That’s just my game, I’ve got to assist however I can,” Malone said. “You can dish it off to Fred, you can pop it out for a 3 or I can do it myself. That just gives me the ability to take over.”
Shannon Bogues and Marcus Jackson combined to score 13 points.
Malone really took off in the second quarter.
With the game tied at 21 points apiece, Malone took a feed at the top of the key and drove straight through the middle of the Hawks defense for a left-handed dunk that put Ellison ahead by two with 3:34 remaining in the first half.
“It hyped everybody up,” Bogues said. “Everybody was standing up and cheering. It was a great dunk.”
Finishing was an issue for the Eagles who entered the fourth quarter against Austin trailing 39-38, but got outscored 15-9 down the stretch.
Edwards led the Eagles with 13 points in that game while Malone added 11 and Fredrick added 10.
Free throw shooting grounded the Eagles as they hit only 18 percent (2 for 11) from the charity stripe.
“They showed a little resolve, because I wasn’t sure if they were going to be able to do it or not from the disappointed performance we had earlier today,” Jones said about coming back from the loss.
Contact Albert Alvarado at email@example.com