Brandon Gilbert’s team was far from perfect.
Hosting one of its most intense rivals, Shoemaker struggled, falling into a double-digit deficit before halftime, shooting just 42 percent from the floor during the contest and missing 15 free throws.
But it resulted in a victory.
The Grey Wolves did just enough down the stretch, upsetting Class 6A No. 25 Ellison 41-40 in overtime despite making only one field goal in the final 12 minutes of play.
Following the contest, Shoemaker’s head coach admitted his team simply willed the win.
“That was a really tough win,” Gilbert said, “and I’m just really proud of the way the kids battled back in the second half.
“We couldn’t have played any worse in the first half, but they came back, and they battled.”
Grey Wolves standout junior Jwan Roberts agreed after finishing with a game-high 16 points to go with eight rebounds and nine blocks.
“We really played hard and bounced back in the second half,” the post said. “We were playing really streaky in the first half, but we turned it up, and the crowd really helped boost our energy.”
It did not always result in production through.
After entering halftime trailing 24-12 on the heels of a 4-of-15 shooting performance, the Grey Wolves opened the second half with 13 unanswered points, taking its first lead of the contest on Ta’Veon Sevaatasi’s shot.
Shoemaker (14-9, 5-3 District 8-6A) finished the quarter with a 36-30 cushion, but it quickly deflated.
Moments after making eight of 12 shots to begin the second half, the Grey Wolves’ offense fell flat once again as they went scoreless in the fourth quarter but did enough defensively to force overtime.
In the extra period, the Eagles took a 39-36 lead thanks to senior Kadarius Green’s 3-pointer, but Shoemaker sandwiched a pair of free throws around Romeo Postell’s successful and-1 play to reclaim control.
Ellison (24-4, 6-2) trimmed the deficit to a point, 41-40, on junior Chandler Sutton’s free throw with seven seconds remaining in overtime, and the Eagles managed to regain possession with four seconds left, but Postell blocked a buzzer-beating attempt to clinch the victory.
“In the first half,” Gilbert said, “we did too much letting — we let them get the ball where they wanted it, we let them cut, we let them back screen us.
“But in the second half, we did a better job of making them run their offense, and it worked out for the best.”
Sevaatasi complemented Roberts’ performance with 10 points, while teammate Du’Wain Thomas added six points, spoiling a team-high 11-point outing for Ellison junior Amir Davis and a 10-point, five-rebound showing for Green.
With the win, the Grey Wolves sole possession of third place in the district standings, while Ellison falls to second after losing for the second time in a week.
“We all played hard,” Roberts said. “Now, we’ve just got to keep this going.
“We can’t go from winning to losing. We’ve got to go on a streak and make the playoffs.”
TUESDAY'S DISTRICT 8-6A BOYS SCORES
- Belton 58, Killeen 54, OT
- San Angelo Central 70, Copperas Cove 68
- Shoemaker 41, No. 25 Ellison 40, OT
- Waco Midway 59, Harker Heights 47
- San Angelo Central at Harker Heights, 6 p.m.
- Ellison at Copperas Cove, 7 p.m.
- Waco Midway at Killeen, 7 p.m.
- Shoemaker at Belton, 7 p.m.