Even after defeating Bryan Rudder in its last game, Ellison coach Alberto Jones felt his team was lacking the intensity it needed to be playing with and let his players know it the past week.
Ellison responded empathically Monday, overwhelming visiting Round Rock 70-33 in a game that was essentially over after a blistering 17-0 run in the first quarter.
“I thought we played hard,” Jones said after the game, “we hit some shots, the shots fell, but I thought the intensity was pretty high at the beginning of the game.”
With a number of coaches and players from its Killeen ISD rivals in the stands, Ellison put on a show worthy of its audience.
After falling behind 2-0, the Eagles (1-1) blitzed Round Rock (2-6) with a combination of size and athleticism on both sides of the floor from which the Dragons were never able to recover.
Ellison shot 55 percent from floor in the first period, including 67 percent from 3-point range, and cruised to victory without starter Malik Malone, who sat out with an ingrown toenail.
“(It was) the seniors stepping up,” senior Fred Jackson said. “It all started off with (point guard) Knigel Key on the defensive end, and we just all followed him.”
Round Rock scored the first points of the game on an alley-oop layup from Cameron Blake to Keion Jackson.
Then Ellison ripped off 17 straight points, capped by Jackson slamming home a Shannon Bogues miss, causing the Ellison Gymnasium to erupt.
Even after Round Rock stopped the run on a Ryan Layne 3-pointer, Key brought the crowd to its feet again on the next possession, crossing over at the top of the key and pulling up for a 3-pointer he drilled as he was falling to the ground.
The spectacular play put Ellison up 20-5, the start of a 14-0 run that ended with Ellison up 31-5 at the 5:59 mark in the second quarter.
The Eagles’ domination inside also had lasting effects in the second half as Ellison pushed its lead to 30 by the start of the fourth.
After taking four shots in the paint in the first quarter, the Dragons attempted just four in the paint the rest of the game. Instead, they launched 20 3-pointers, connecting on six.
Ellison outrebounded Round Rock by an eye-popping 47-10 margin.
Jones said the domination on both ends of the floor may not be duplicable every game, but the effort on both ends certainly is.
“I know we probably won’t see that all the time, even though I would love to see it all the time,” Jones said, “but I just want to see the intensity up.
“I think good things can happen, I think we’re a pretty good team when we’re playing hard and playing with intensity and guarding, I thought we did all of that today.”
Playing in his first game back from injury, Shaqur Martin came off the bench to lead Ellison with 15 points and seven rebounds.
“He stepped up,” Jackson said.
“He had good hustle plays,” added senior Ronnie Edwards, who had 13 points and six rebounds, “and (he) got back on ‘D’ real quick like we’ve been practicing.”
And now that Ellison has seen its intensity in practice translate to a game, Jones hopes to begin seeing it with more regularity as the season continues.
“They know what we expect from them now as far as the intensity,” Jones said. “Like I said, them shots aren’t always going to fall, but we’ve just got to try to build on that intensity, on that defense we started off the game and the third quarter with.”
Contact Jordan Mason at email@example.com or 254-501-7562