Friday didn’t start the way Ellison had hoped it’d start when it opened up league play against visiting Harker Heights.
But with the Lady Knights controlling the pace and leading the game, Ellison decided to dial it back in order to pull ahead.
“We just needed to slow it down, calm down and get ourselves together,” Ellison junior Gemma Alhambra said. “Because if we’re rushing we don’t play very well, but as long as we’re calm and doing what we need to do we’re OK.”
The Lady Eagles did just that Friday, and it allowed them to go ahead for good in the second quarter, holding on for a 39-34 win against Harker Heights.
The Lady Knights nearly kicked off what they hope will be a turnaround district season with a win but weren’t quite able to get over the hump in the second half despite staying close most of the way.
“I feel like we weren’t us three-quarters of the game,” Harker Heights head coach Shirretha Nelson said. “I think we had a moment in the first half where we played decent, but we made mistakes that we shouldn’t make and mistakes that we don’t make.”
Early on, however, it was Ellison that was out of rhythm as Harker Heights controlled the first quarter, which ended with the Lady Knights up 11-7.
But Ellison began the second quarter with a 6-0 spurt that ended with a short jumper by Madison Hattix-Covington for a 13-11 lead a minute into the quarter.
Harker Heights then knotted the score at 13 before Ellison scored six straight again, this time with Aujunnae Smith capping the run with a short jumper for a 19-13 advantage.
But it was Hattix-Covington who owned the second, scoring nine of her game-high 21 points in the frame.
“I kept attacking,” Hattix-Covington said. “In the first, I wasn’t making a lot, but I knew if I kept shooting eventually they would start falling.”
Yet Ellison head coach Sherry McKinnon was more pleased with what Hattix-Covington did on the defensive end of the floor, nabbing a pair of steals and blocking a shot as Ellison returned the favor by disrupting Harker Heights late in the game.
“Her long lankiness kind of was causing some problems defensively and then I didn’t realize she scored that many points, so she was doing a decent job on both ends,” McKinnon said.
Harker Heights pulled within a basket multiple times in the third quarter, including on a Da’Jah Daniel layup to cut the lead to 25-23 with 6:39 to play in the third. Daniel had 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.
But the Lady Knights were never able to get closer than that, and after Hattix-Covington put Ellison up 37-30 on a layup with 6:52 remaining in the game, Harker Heights was never able to get closer than two possessions.
Junior Sheanne Ellis-Clayton led Harker Heights with 11 points and eight rebounds.
For Ellison, Cielo McClain and Aujunnae Smith scored seven and six points, respectively.
Now the two teams, which both felt they could’ve played better afterward, will look to do just that as they face tough opponents Tuesday.
Ellison will visit No. 23 Shoemaker while Harker Heights will host No. 10 Waco Midway. Both games are scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.