After being handed their first district loss of the season Wednesday at Waco Midway, No. 13 Ellison got back in the win column in a big way with a 99-53 home rout of San Angelo Central on Friday night.
Casey Armour and Laurence Bryant each scored 20 points to lead the Eagles. Elijah Moleon added 12, and Chandler Sutton had 11.
“I feel like the team was lacking in confidence but we just really needed this game for a win because Midway really tore us apart,” junior guard Sutton said.
The Eagles started the night with five steals of Bobcat passes and limited Central to only five points in the first quarter.
The Bobcats fought to put points up on the board. Junior forward Owen Huff drove down the middle for a layup, but senior forward Bryant blocked it from behind.
“It feels great just coming out and fighting with my team,” Bryant said.
Central senior guard James Hendon, who led the Bobcats with 11 points, hit a late basket from deep but the Eagles were already ahead by 26 points by halftime.
Ellison was sitting with a 36-point lead by the middle of the third quarter, when head coach Alberto Jones Jr. decided to rest all five of his starters.
Bryant looked to dunk off a pass from Sutton but it bounced out. Senior forward Avantae Bell grabbed the rebound and found Bryant once more for a fadeaway jumpshot that put the Eagles up by 40 points.
Bryant kept adding to the score for the Eagles with two 3-point plays late in the third quarter.
Central junior guarded Deveraux Minix (nine points) had two from the outside but Sutton hit a fadeaway jump shot of his own in the last minute of the period to give Ellison a comfortable 50-point lead, 78-28.
Sutton and Bell each hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, bringing the Eagles lead to 58. The Ellison crowd started to grow louder as it realized this team was within reach of triple digits.
A fancy hook shot from senior forward Jakkari Thomas brought Ellison (24-3, 6-1 8-6A) within six points of 100 with three and a half minutes left to play.
Central (8-16, 1-6) was determined to keep the Eagles from scoring with three steals that resulted in a 10-2 run for the Bobcats.
In the last two minutes of the game senior guard Shamon Walker found senior forward Marvin Caines waiting on the outside, bringing Ellison three points awa from resetting the scoreboard.
Bryant stole the ball in the last minute and dished it to Sutton three times as he attempted to hit 100 points for the Eagles.
The Bobcats got the fourth rebound and added three to their score with 57 seconds left.
“I’ve never done it before so I was just trying to get to 100 because I was just so close,” Sutton said.
Bryant had one thought running through his mind at the time, “Just got to keep scoring, get to a hundred.”
“They were probably trying too hard to get it but they were scoring a lot of points,” Jones said of his team’s pursuit.
In the last 20 seconds, Bryant retrieved the ball off a fourth 3-point attempt from Sutton but the game ended with Ellison one point shy of 100.
While the team was focused on winning, it was how they went about it that mattered most to Jones.
“It was more important for us to get a win and play well,” he said. “We’ve gotten a few wins lately that we didn’t play well and so I thought we played fairly well this game.”
With the second round of district play starting, the Eagles know they have to keep fighting as they face both Copperas Cove and Shoemaker on the road in the coming week.
Most teams in the district have a target on Ellison but the Eagles have a target of their own.
“We’re definitely gunning for Midway because that’s the only team that’s beat us,” Sutton said. “I feel like going into Midway that was the only team that could beat us and we’re just coming for their head next time.”
FRIDAY'S 8-6A BOYS SCORES
- Belton 68, Harker Heights 66, 2OT
- Ellison 99, San Angelo Central 53
- Waco Midway 66, Copperas Cove 64
- Shoemaker def. Killeen
- Copperas Cove at San Angelo Central, 6 p.m.
- Ellison at Shoemaker, 7 p.m.
- Harker Heights at Waco Midway, 7 p.m.
- Killeen at Belton, 7 p.m.