Ellison has already done something quite unprecedented.
In the first two rounds of the Class 6A postseason, the Eagles have knocked off the last two state champions — a 53-41 win over defending champion DeSoto on Tuesday and a 53-40 triumph Friday over Plano West, which won the title two years ago.
Ellison’s victory over West also marked the 200th win in the nine-year career of Alberto Jones Jr., a feat he appreciated for more than one reason — he accomplished it in the playoffs, and it meant his team was moving on to the third round at the same time.
The Eagles earned the right to face Duncanville at Waco High School tonight at 7:30 in the Region I-6A quarterfinals.
“I feel good about it and the kids feel good about it, and they’re excited about moving on,” Jones said Saturday. “Celebrating time was last night, though, and today is focused on Duncanville.
“It was cool to do it in a playoff game. It was kind of like a double-pleasure deal — you advance in the playoffs and you reach a milestone with those kids.”
Against DeSoto, senior Dajuan Jones spearheaded Ellison (27-7) with a game-high 20 points, followed by junior Casey Armour’s 15. Jones also added three steals to his ledger, and Armour had seven rebounds and one blocked shot.
Against West, Mike Aranda shined for the Eagles with a game-high 20 points to go along with three rebounds and two steals while hitting three 3-pointers.
“I had a feeling Mike was going to play well,” coach Jones said. “I always say he’s a tough kid. When he puts his mind to something, he can hit some timely shots.
“He’s a great kid, and it was a great time for him to get that stroke back.”
Not to be outdone, Dajuan Jones registered 16 points, two rebounds and four assists, and Armour added 11 points, four rebounds, two assists and one block.
But the contributions of many others should not be overlooked.
Junior Elijah Moleon and senior Ronald Williams maintained control of the paint, forcing the Wolves into playing an outside game. Moleon finished the evening with three points, five rebounds and one block, and Williams had three rebounds and one steal.
Senior Travian Wright continued playing his role and proved to be an irreplaceable asset on the wing, scoring just three points but pulling down seven boards and applying his usual “sticky” defense.
“Everybody needs their glue guy, and Tra is our glue guy,” coach Jones said. “He can guard the other team’s better guards, he can get a big rebound, he can knock down some key free throws and he can hit a big 3. He’s just that guy — he’s doing whatever he needs to do for the team.”
Along with the contributions of senior Joshua Childs and junior Kadarius Green, Ellison has been in good hands thus far. The entire roster will need to continue their strong efforts for the Eagles to get past Duncanville tonight.
“They’re athletic, they’re fast and they’ve got a bunch of guards that can get to the basket and shoot pretty well,” Jones said. “They’re an offensive juggernaut. We’ve got our work cut out for us, and we’re going to have to get all our assignments down, and buckle down and play hard.”
Some Panthers the Eagles will have to look out for are Tyler Watkins, Dexter Johnson, Jakobi Pearson and Miles McDougal, as well as Erik Talton and Jordan Masenburge.
While Ellison would want nothing more than to defeat Duncanville (26-7) to reach the regional tournament, which will be held this weekend at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center in Fort Worth, all they are focused on is today.
“They’re going to be a tall task for us,” Jones said. “We’re going to have to play hard, we’re going to have to play as a team and we’re going to have to guard. Those three things, which I think we did the last two games to get us here, we’re going to have to do it even better.”
6A REGIONAL QUARTERFINALS
- Ellison vs. Duncanville, 7:30 p.m. at Waco HS