By Angel Verdejo, Kevin Posival and Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE - Who knows how District 12-5A will shake out?
After one game, Copperas Cove at least got the attention of one team that hasn't missed the playoffs since 1994.
"Cove's a good team - we knew that coming in," Ellison head coach Alberto Jones said moments after his Eagles held off Cove 62-57 in overtime Monday afternoon. "Cove's a team that's going to contend for a playoff spot. Those people that are saying those things about Cove, maybe they need to come cover Cove a couple times because Cove ain't no bottom-dweller - I can tell you that."
Ellison won the game, but by no means was it the same as last season's two double-digit victories over the Bulldawgs.
But the Eagles (9-7, 1-0) have seasoned 3-year starter Devonte Brown. The Indiana State signee hit a buzzer-beating jumper to send the game to overtime, and then scored eight of Ellison's 10 overtime points while Cove struggled.
The game-tying shot was necessary after Cove (8-7, 0-1) erased a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter. The Bulldawgs went up 52-50 on a Cory Scott jumper along the baseline with 31 seconds left in regulation.
Two more turnovers gave Ellison one last chance, with the ball in Brown's hands and seven seconds to play. Looking to either drive to the basket or find an open shooter, Brown pulled up just inside the 3-point line for the jumper as the buzzer sounded.
No. 11 Killeen 84, 3A No. 14 Mexia 58 - At Killeen, Runnin' Roos coach Jason Fossett can handle a three-quarter effort by his starters if they're sitting by the fourth.
Tashawn Thomas scored 17 of his 23 points in the first half and Anthony Taylor scored nine of his 18 in the third quarter when the Runnin' Roos (16-2) stretched a nine-point halftime lead to 19. Thomas had 10 rebounds and six assists and Sedrick Jennings added 12 points. Devarri McCray scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter in his varsity debut.
Killeen blew up a third-quarter eight-point lead with a 15-2 run in the final 4½ minutes of the period that featured four fast-break dunks.
"I think we wore them down some. I think they looked like a tired basketball team in the late-third," Fossett said. "I was proud of the way we played and I'm proud of the kids - 16-2 going into the break - but you can't be satisfied, though."
D.J Weathers scored 27 and D.J. Robinson scored 12 to lead the Blackcats (11-3).
Salado 43, Robinson 36 - At Salado, senior guard Tony Sager scored 10 of his game-high 14 points to go along with nine of his 11 rebounds in the second half and helped the Eagles enter Christmas break with a win.
After shooting a paltry 7-of-22 in the first half to trail 21-17, Salado (11-3) found a toughness coming out of halftime thanks to Sager, who pulled down six boards and scored the final four points in a 10-1 third quarter effort.
"There was a time span there that his extra effort really kept us alive," Salado coach Kenny Mann said of Sager. "He made some plays that were really huge for us, where everybody else seemed like they were going through the motions a little bit."
Bookended by a pair of Sager buckets, the Eagles opened the fourth on an 8-3 run to stretch their lead to 35-25 with 3 minutes left before the foul-riddled game turned into a free-throw shooting contest.
Combining on 37 total fouls, neither team fared well from the charity stripe, with Salado shooting 8-of-21 compared to 9-of-23 by Robinson.
No. 22 Thorndale 53, Florence 27 - At Florence, the Lady Bulldogs jumped ahead early and pulled away late to defeat the Lady Buffaloes.
Florence (8-10, 0-3 in 27-2A) was led by Kasey Button with nine points.
Thorndale (12-5, 2-1) did most of its damage from the free-throw line, hitting 19 of 30.
Alex Byington contributed to this report.