Ellison is where it wants to be.
While the Eagles aimed for a league title in the arduous District 8-6A, they still earned the second seed and a right to the Class 6A postseason.
Alberto Jones Jr. has been the head coach at Ellison for nine years now, and the Eagles have made the playoffs in eight of those seasons. But all he wants is a chance.
“It’d be a whole lot better if we were the one seed,” Jones said. “But once you get in there, everybody is 0-0 and all of that doesn’t matter anymore. I’m proud of this bunch, and they’ve worked real hard this year.
“But I’m hoping this is just another chapter in the season for us.”
Ellison will face defending state champion DeSoto, which dropped out of the top 25 this week, tonight at McLennan Community College in Waco, a matchup that used to happen deeper in the postseason. But the Eagles were pitted in District 8-6A of Region I after UIL realignment last February, and this highly touted matchup is happening right out of the chute.
“Region I is brutal,” Jones said. “They didn’t do us any favors putting us here, but we’re here. We get the team that won the state championship right out of the gate, and we’re ready for it.
“We’ll play wherever they tell us to play, and they say we’ve got DeSoto. So, we’ve got to be ready for DeSoto.”
There is plenty to worry about with DeSoto, and head coach Chris Dyer is the biggest.
“They’re good every year,” Jones said. “Every year, DeSoto has a chance to win state, starting off with their coach. He’s been doing it for a long, long time and has about three or four rings and is one of the best coaches in the state.”
DeSoto also has the players to back Dyer up.
Senior point guard Brandon Butler is the general, and Roderick Mason, Xavier Ball and Feron Hunt will also cause headaches for Ellison. But the Green and White have a toolbox that could cause a full-on migraine for the reigning champs.
Senior point guard and four-year letterman Dajuan Jones is the catalyst, and Mike Aranda, Casey Armour, Travian Wright and Elijah Moleon are his supporting cast — to start.
Ellison was eliminated in the bi-district round last season, and it didn’t sit well with its veteran point guard.
“He’s been doing this for four years, and Dajuan is going to be ready,” Jones said. “Last year, he was down and disappointed when we lost. He doesn’t like losing, whether it’s playoffs, district, regular games, tournament games — he was as disappointed as I thought he’d be.
“But I think, after that loss, he got even more focused in the offseason. He was getting ready for this time of year.
“I’m not worried about Dajuan. Dajuan is going to do what Dajuan does. We’ve just got to make sure everyone is ready to play, and playing focused and playing freely and give them our best shot. All we need is our best shot.”
There is also Joshua Childs, “Maniac” Marvin Caines, Taquarri Smith, Amir Davis, Kadarius Green, Charles Evans and Ronald Williams Jr.
With all of them, Ellison possesses the weapons to make a deep playoff run, and it must start with a victory over the defending state champions.
“They’ve got guards, they’ve got bigs, they’re athletic and they’re disciplined,” Jones said. “It’s a tough matchup for us. But to be the champs, you’ve got to beat the champs.”
- Ellison vs. DeSoto, 7 p.m. at McLennan Community College in Waco.