By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
BELTON – The Ellison Lady Eagles went as Desiree Wylie went in the first half. Wylie posted a double-double in the first half and grabbed 10 more rebounds in the second half, but down the stretch, the Lady Eagles' offense couldn't match Wylie's glass-pounding intensity and dropped their third-straight 13-5A game, 50-40 to the Belton Lady Tigers.
"She just dominated and controlled the boards," Ellison coach Sherry McKinnon said of Wylie's performance. "We've got to get her some help. We've got to give a complete-team effort where everybody's clicking."
Trailing by three to start the fourth, the Lady Eagles (7-11, 0-3 13-5A) opened the final quarter with a 6-2 run that included a game-tying field goal by Leslie Telles halfway through the period, but Tilatha Akins answered with a field goal on the other end.
Belton never looked back and Ellison didn't make another shot until Lisa Hicklen hit a 3 with just 40 seconds left that cut Belton's lead to six. Bailey Heitmiller hit four of her seven fourth-quarter free throws in the last 35 seconds to seal the deal and give the Lady Tigers (7-12, 1-3 13-5A) their first district win.
"We've been playing pretty well, but not getting it done," Belton coach Randy Bell said. "It's a relief for the kids ... to get that first one."
After leading 25-24 at halftime, the Lady Eagles reclaimed a one-point advantage when Eloisa Seabrooks hit two free throws, but both teams combined for nine turnovers in the final three minutes. Belton's Angie Harris scored the only points of the stretch to give the Lady Tigers a 34-31 lead at the end of the third quarter.
"We're not doing enough to win a district basketball game," McKinnon said. "I was pretty pleased with their efforts Tuesday night. I'm not pleased tonight. We're in trouble."
Ellison lost to Harker Heights Tuesday night by giving the Lady Knights 31 free-throw opportunities in the second half. The Lady Knights converted 17 in their 61-53 win.
It looked as if foul trouble was going to plague the Lady Eagles again in the first quarter Thursday. Of Belton's 13 first-quarter points, eight came from the charity stripe on 10 attempts. But, on Wylie's eight rebounds in the period and Alisha Jones' six points in the opening four minutes, the Lady Eagles built a five-point lead halfway through the period and led by seven when Hicklen hit a field goal with 3? to play and forced Belton into a timeout.
Jones (14 points) added a bucket out of the timeout, but the Lady Tigers scored seven unanswered to close the gap to 17-15 to start the second.
Wylie scored six points in the second quarter, all off of offensive rebounds, and was the only Ellison offense for the first six minutes.
Jones hit Ellison's only other field goal with two minutes on the clock, but Belton's Cat Curry scored five unanswered for the Lady Tigers to reduce Ellison's lead to one at halftime.
Hicklen added five points and Jones and Seabrooks each four in Ellison's 15-point second half. Gabby Guzmon led Belton with 12 points and Heitmiller had 11.
Ellison picks up its distrct schedule on Jan. 4, when it hosts A&M Consolidated.
Contact Kevin Posival at email@example.com or (254) 501-7562.