Before Tuesday, Shoemaker hadn’t defeated Ellison on its home floor since 2011.
And while the Lady Grey Wolves’ 51-42 victory against Ellison on Tuesday may have come early in district play, it certainly didn’t feel that way, as Tija Hawkins’ 14 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks helped move Shoemaker to 2-0 in league play.
“This one feels good,” Shoemaker head coach Michelle O’Neal said. “Going in and getting our second win in district is nice but beating our crosstown rival also does make it sweeter.”
While Shoemaker (10-3) grabbed sole possession of first early in the district race, Ellison (13-5) fell to 1-1 in league play, as it was unable to rally from an early deficit.
“Those girls were prepared and ready, and we played terrible from the beginning of the ballgame to the end of the ballgame,” Ellison head coach Sherry McKinnon said. “We just never got into a groove.”
That was particularly true in the second quarter, in which Shoemaker held Ellison to just four points to open up an 11-point halftime lead.
The advantage later swelled to 14 after a steal by Shadazia Birchette led to a turnaround jumper by Hawkins to put the Lady Grey Wolves up 30-16 with 3:51 remaining in the third quarter.
“We just played Shoemaker basketball,” Hawkins said of building the lead. “We just didn’t let them get us out of our game or get in our heads or anything like that.”
Ellison pulled within single digits in the final minute of the third, but a high-arching 3-pointer by Milena Rodriguez-Arrieta at the buzzer pushed the lead back to 11 to keep Ellison at bay.
“That was nice because she had been out a few games because she got hurt,” O’Neal said. “So that was really big.
“I think that was big for us as a team, but that was big for her personal confidence.”
Rodriguez-Arrieta finished with 11 points.
Ellison still wasn’t done, pulling within eight around the four-minute mark in the fourth and pulling within 40-34 with 2:28 to play on a layup by junior Madison Hattix-Covington.
Hattix-Covington was big for Ellison with a game-high 22 points and six rebounds, but the Lady Eagles were never able to get any closer, as Shoemaker pulled away at the free-throw line to close it out.
Offensive rebounding was also key in helping Shoemaker protect its lead, as it grabbed 10 of its 12 offensive boards in the second half.
And while O’Neal and the Lady Grey Wolves are taking it a game at a time, especially with a visit to No. 7 Waco Midway looming Friday, they were happy to have proven themselves a bit with a big win against a perennial contender Tuesday.
“We were the underdog,” Hawkins said, “so we had to prove a lot to people.”