Ellison only made one field goal in the fourth quarter, but it was all the Eagles needed.
Requiring a victory against No. 23 Waco Midway on Friday to keep its District 8-6A championship hopes alive, Ellison saws its opportunity slipping away after an 11-point advantage to start the fourth quarter completely evaporated as the Eagles missed all eight of their shot attempts in the period.
Then, with time expiring, Amir Davis ended the skid, connecting on a short jumper to give Ellison a 64-62 buzzer-beating victory.
Following the game, the guard admitted the game-winner felt routine until it went through, causing his teammates to rush the floor in celebration.
“When the ball came to me,” the junior said, “I just knew I had to make something happen.
“I’ve been working on my shots, and I just did the same thing I’ve been doing.”
The basket was Davis’ only field
goal of the game as he finished with three points, but it was massive.
With the win, the Eagles split the season series against the Panthers and pull into a tie atop the standings entering Tuesday’s regular season finale at San Angelo Central, where a victory could potentially result in a district championship.
“This was big,” Ellison head coach Alberto Jones Jr. said. “We were second place at worst no matter what, but now we give ourselves a chance to get first or tie for first, so this was the biggest game of the year.
“But come Tuesday, that will be the biggest game of the year.”
Although the Eagles hope for the same outcome, they will attempt to collect it in a different manner.
After Midway recorded the game’s opening point, Ellison (29-4, 11-2) took control, building a 17-11 advantage after the first quarter before pushing it to 37-26 by halftime.
Things continued to go the Eagles’ way in the third period as senior standout Casey Armour scored eight of his game-high 21 points in the quarter, helping inflate the lead to 13 points on multiple occasions.
Everything changed, however, in the final period.
Coupled with Ellison’s inaccurate shooting, the Panthers (19-8, 11-2) found their rhythm, exploding for 22 points in the quarter en route to tying the contest for the first time at 62-62 with 15.8 seconds remaining in regulation, setting the stage for Davis’ shot.
“We started getting rattled a little bit and panicking when they pressured us,” Jones said. “The play was to get it to Casey, but once Amir got the ball, I was confident he would make it.
“I’m just so happy for him, because he’s a kid who is real hard on himself, and this is something that can catapult him forward for the rest of this year and into his senior year.”
Eagles senior Kadarius Green complemented Armour’s offensive output by scoring all 12 of his points in the first half by connecting on four of his first five 3-point attempts.
Late in the game, no shots were falling for Ellison, though, but the Eagles survived by making 11 of 15 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“We shoot free throws good as a team,” Jones said, “and guys stepped up.”
Now, Ellison will look to carry the momentum into San Angelo with hopes of returning home with at least a share of the district championship.
“We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves right now,” Davis said. “We’re getting better going into the playoffs, and that’s what Coach wants.”
Friday's District 8-6A Scores
- Belton 81, Copperas Cove 73
- Ellison 64, Waco Midway 62
- Harker Heights 71, Killeen 59
- Shoemaker 85, San Angelo Central 61
Tuesday’s 8-6A season finales
- Ellison (11-2) at San Angelo Central (2-11), 6 p.m.
- Copperas Cove (1-12) at Waco Midway (11-2), 7 p.m.
- Harker Heights (7-6) at Belton (7-6), 7 p.m.
- Shoemaker (7-6) at Killeen (6-7), 7 p.m.