To hear Celneque Bobbitt explain it, he and his Knights were just being neighborly.
For the better part of the last month, Ellison sat all alone atop the District 8-5A standings.
But after the Eagles experienced two separate 3-plus minute scoreless droughts in the third quarter, where Harker Heights outscored Ellison 12-3 in the frame, the Knights pulled even with the Eagles for first place in 8-5A with a 53-46 road win Tuesday.
“I think they were kind of lonely, so we had to come and see ’em,” Bobbitt said.
On a night when Ellison struggled to ever get going from deep, shooting 5-of-20 from beyond the arc, the Knights made the most of their opportunities inside the lane as junior guard Cameron Delaney led all scorers with 22 points (including a 9-for-9 showing from the charity stripe) and 6-foot-5 senior post Andre Hughes added 15 (11 coming in the first quarter).
“Everybody knew that this was a big game, and that if we won this game that we’d be on a roll with our winning streak still going,” Delaney said. “We just (had) to get this win.”
For the Knights, who were without starting point guard Josh Delaney for long stretches with an apparent wrist injury, it was a little sweet revenge after the Eagles came into their house Dec. 18 and pulled off a 50-44 win. Now the two
cross-city rivals are tied at 7-1 atop the 8-5A standings with Heights ( 18-7, 7-1 8-5A) having won seven straight. The loss snapped an 11-game win streak for Ellison ( 22-5, 7-1).
“We just couldn’t hit shots in the third quarter,” Ellison coach Alberto Jones said. “And towards the end, we hit a couple of shots, but we didn’t hit the ones we needed.”
In the third quarter, Ellison shot just two of 11 from the floor with scoring droughts of 4:22 to open the frame and 3:06 to close it. The Eagles had their chances in the fourth to pull even, cutting Heights’ lead to 46-43 on a Ronnie Edwards putback with 2:42 left, but hit just one of their final nine attempts. For the game, Hawkins (10 points) hit just three of 15 from beyond the arc as Ellison missed 15 of their 20 total 3-point tries.
“He just missed shots he usually makes,” Jones said. “He just had one of those nights.”
Added Bobbitt: “He was marked. ... If you’re a shooter, you’re not going to get shots off, you better learn how to dribble the ball.”
And with one of their key contributors struggling, the Eagles just couldn’t find their scoring groove, with senior guard Ojai Black having to shoulder much of the load with 19 points. Thomas Larry added nine points and 10 rebounds, but did most of his damage in the second quarter.
“It kind of limits us (when Hawkins isn’t hitting), because him being the shooter he is and knocking down shots kind of spreads the floor for everybody, makes everything easier,” Black said.
Ellison jumped out early, pulling ahead 8-3 on a Black floater with 3:45 to play in the first. But Hughes followed with a baseline layup and then scored nine of Heights’ next 11 points from inside the lane as the Knights pulled ahead 14-11 with 1:18 left following a three-point play from Hughes. Black kept Ellison in it by bookending a pair of jumpers around a long-range 3-pointer from Heights reserve Reshaun Banks to stay ahead 17-15 after one quarter.
“We just wanted to come out with some intensity and play hard,” Hughes said. “(We) just needed to get this win — revenge.”