With one of the area’s most talented senior classes, including Division I-bound standouts David Cobb (Minnesota), Devonte Brown (Indiana State), Jaleel Williams (San Jose State) and Maya Williamson (Memphis), among others, it was a very up-and-down athletic season at Ellison.

Decimated by injuries — including a knee injury to fullback Devon Hocutt in the third game of the season — things didn’t start out so well as Cobb and the Eagles football team struggled to its second straight 4-win season.

But Ellison’s athletic luck turned on a dime once the hardcourt season started, as both the boys and girls basketball teams dealt through turmoil to make deep playoff runs.

Despite some inconsistent performances from its two-headed scoring machine of Brown and Williams, the Eagles (23-13) managed to pull it together just in time for a 17th consecutive postseason appearance before losing to No. 4 DeSoto 60-52 in the Region II quarterfinals.

It was the way the Lady Eagles united around one another following the untimely death of the mother of sophomore point guard Deja Pointer that truly defined Ellison’s success this year. Outside of a emotional loss to Temple on the day of Pointer’s mother’s funeral, the Lady Eagles (30-8) won 10 of their last 11 regular season games to clinch the school’s first District 12-5A championship in a decade before falling to eventual state runner-up Georgetown in the Region II-5A semifinals.

A regular state presence in track and field, distance runner Hector Hernandez was the lone Eagle to medal at the 5A state meet — earning silver in the 800-meter run — while the Ellison baseball team couldn’t build off last season’s postseason appearance, finishing fifth in 12-5A with a 17-11 overall record.

Top-5 Performances

1. Thrice as nice: Trailing District 12-5A rival Harker Heights 42-27 in the third quarter, the Ellison girls basketball team rallied for an incredible 30-6 run between the fourth quarter and overtime to beat the Lady Knights for the third time with a stirring 57-48 victory in the Region II-5A quarterfinal for a school-record 30th win, advancing to the Lady Eagles’ first-ever trip to the regional semis at Baylor’s Ferrell Center.

2. Second-best sensation: Finishing second to Harker Heights senior Kyle Thompson in the 800-meter run at both the District 12-5A and Region II-5A meets, Eagles junior Hector Hernandez once again trailed Thompson at the Class 5A state meet in Austin. But, after Flower Mound Marcus’ Sean Canavin overtook him in the final 200 meters, Hernandez made one last push for silver (1:51.35).

3. Cobb runs over Waco: Rushing for a season-high 257 yards on 18 carries and four touchdowns — all coming in the second half — David Cobb capped the day with a bruising 19-yard touchdown for a dizzying 37-35 back-and-forth victory over Waco High at Waco ISD Stadium.

4. Williams’ 3-party: Jaleel Williams banked in a last-second 3-pointer — his fifth of the game — for a game-high 25 points to send the Eagles basketball team past Garland Naaman Forest, 66-63, in overtime of their Class 5A area-round playoff game at West High School.

5. 15-run rally: Entering the sixth inning, the Eagles baseball team was behind 8-2; but batting around twice in the frame, Ellison exploded for a 15-run inning and a 17-8 win over Pflugerville Connally at the Copperas Cove Tournament.

Twenty Eagles came to the plate as senior D.J. Fisher plated six runs, including a grand slam that tied the game at 8-8.

5 Players to Watch for 2011-12

1. Hector Hernandez, track: The junior distance runner took silver in the 800 meter run at district, region and state meet, finishing behind Texas-bound Thompson all three times.

2. Alayshia Hunter, basketball: The defending District 12-5A co-Most Valuable Player averaged 10.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and two blocks per game for a Lady Eagles squad that also returns district newcomer-of-the-year Deja Pointer and fellow all-district first-teamer Ocleta Young.

3. Isiah Cowan, football: Coming on late last season, the Eagles 6-foot-1 junior-to-be ran for 119 of his 299 yards on the season while filling in for an injured Cobb at A&M Consolidated on Oct. 1.

4. Felix Marbury and Tyler Bark, baseball: The first-team all-district selections, Bark and Marbury led the Eagles with four home runs apiece, while Bark added 24 RBIs and Marbury had a team-high 14 stolen bases.

5. Fallon Christian, wrestling: The area’s lone state medalist, Christian finished sixth in the 128-pound weight class after breezing through the first day of the UIL 5A girls state wrestling championships at the Delco Center.

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