By Nick Talbot
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON – The Ellison Eagles took control from beyond the arc, but finished off Belton at the free-throw line.
The Eagles hit four 3-pointers – three from Devonte Brown – in the game's first 10 minutes and went 15 of 20 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter as they jumped back into the 12-5A playoff mix with a 59-46 win over the Tigers on Friday at Belton High.
With the win, Ellison (16-9, 4-3 in District 12-5A) pulled ahead of Harker Heights and Temple in the District 12-5A standings and now has sole control of fourth place.
Belton, meanwhile, fell to 14-10 overall and 2-5 in district play.
"I think we are (getting some momentum)," said Ellison coach Alberto Jones. "This was our best week in practice so far and I think we are starting to turn it on."
All three of Brown's 3s came in the first quarter as Ellison embarked on an early 11-2 run. Brown led the Eagles with 17 points.
"I am just coming out of a shooting slump," Brown said. "I had to get it going early. I had to test the waters."
With 4:23 remaining in the second quarter Jaleel Williams, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, converted a three-point play to put the Eagles ahead 22-10.
And after a couple of traded baskets, the Eagles went into the half up 11.
Belton made its only run of the night early in the third quarter when Eric Braeuer, who led Belton with 17 points, scored six of the Tigers' first eight points.
Belton had to do it all without its leading scorer, Jacob Whitman, who sprained his ankle in the Tigers win against Cove on Tuesday.
The momentary hot streak, though, allowed Belton to climb back to within three at 28-25.
After a timeout, though, Ellison regrouped.
Brown, Williams and Douglas McDaniel all converted looks underneath the basket and put the Eagles back up by 10.
"I told them during the timeout that ... They were playing at a certain level and we were playing at a certain level," said Jones. "They raised there level and that made the lead shrink a little bit and we had to respond."
Then in the fourth quarter, the game went to the free-throw line.
Both teams hit the double bonus early, but it was the Eagles who took advantage of the situation, scoring 15 of their 23 points in the quarter from the charity stripe.
The Tigers were only 11 of 21 for the entire game. Even worse, they could not get a rebound off those misses.
Ellison out-rebounded Belton 35-22 and had 14 offensive rebounds.
"You can't miss (10) free throws," Osborn said. "You can't give up that many offensive rebounds off their missed free throws. It is just things I was just not expecting us to do."