By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
WACO - Shanice Davis couldn't even fathom the idea. Ease off the gas a little when leading by 30-plus?
Perish the thought.
"Nooo, we don't give up. You keep going," the Harker Heights senior points guard said. "It's not our fault - that's what we do. We're not giving up on anybody."
The last time the Lady Knights relaxed with a big lead, rival Ellison capitalized and rallied in overtime to end their season in the Region II-5A quarterfinals last February.
That's why, despite holding a considerable 42-9 lead over host Waco Midway entering the fourth quarter Friday, Davis continued to attack on both sides of the ball.
Registering three of her game-high nine steals in the first 3:15 of the final frame, Davis and the still undefeated Lady Knights claimed the girls championship at the 51st annual M.T. Rice Tournament with a 56-16 rout of the Pantherettes.
"I don't know, I was feeling it today (laughs)," said Davis, who turned five of her steals into fastbreak buckets and led Heights with 14 points. "It came easy for me today."
So far this season, it's all seemed rather easy for the No. 8 Lady Knights (23-0), who have continually blown out the competition by an average of 30-plus points per game.
"It's not our fault, that's what we do," Davis said unapologetically. "Last year, we tried to stall a little bit more, but this year we're going at it and not giving any mercy to nobody."
Friday was no different as Heights' run-it-down-your-throat approach translated into a 14-2 lead after the first quarter that quickly turned into 25-2 before Midway made its second basket of the game with 3:18 left in the second.
Between the Pantherettes' first score 3:10 into the game, the Lady Knights took advantage of 11 turnovers over the next 9 1/2 minutes and rolled off a 20-0 run.
"We just showed up and played really well, I don't know," Heights coach Shirretha Nelson said. "We have our moments where it's not as good as it can be, (and) sometimes we look like a phenomenal team. We haven't found a complete consistency yet, but we always play well enough to win."
Senior post Eboniey Jeter added 13 points, while guard Brianna Golden added eight and junior post Brianna Freeman contributed seven points and six rebounds.
"When we play as a group, everything comes along easily. Nothing's difficult to do," Davis said.
Lady Dawgs hold strong start for 3rd - Tied at 5-5 two minutes into the game, it looked like Copperas Cove was going to have its hands full with 3A No. 10 Lorena.
Not so fast.
The Lady Dawgs scored the next 16 straight points as Jasmin Johnson drained three of her four 3-pointers in the first half and Cove held on for a 37-22 victory to win third place.
"If you live and die by the 3, and we try not to, but when you're hitting, you're hard to defend," said first-year Cove coach Teresa Durham. "And right now we're shooting the ball well, and this was one of the games when it all goes well."
The last of Johnson's first-half treys gave Cove a 24-6 lead with 5:12 to play in the second quarter. But after that, the well went dry as Cove didn't make another bucket until Johnson's final 3 midway through the third quarter.
Thankfully, Lorena didn't do much either, managing just a pair of short jumpers from Calley Crye during that span. Leading 28-15 entering the fourth quarter, the Lady Dawgs sealed the victory at the free throw line, hitting 9-of-16 in the frame.
Ellison coasts with steady scoring - Five separate Lady Eagles scored at least seven points, led by 12 points from Alaysia Hunter, to send Ellison past Cedar Park 48-30 in the fifth-place game Friday.
Leading 15-7 after the first quarter, Hunter accounted for six of Ellison's seven second-quarter points to hold off a Cedar Park charge and then outscored the Lady Timberwolves 13-6 in both the third and fourth quarter to close it out.
Deja Pointer added 10 points while Ocleta Young, Jordana Porter and Kanesha Saygo had eight, seven, and seven points respectively.
Eagles bounce back for 3rd place - After falling to 3A No. 10 and eventual tournament champion Waco LaVega on Thursday, Ellison went back to what it does best - shooting the ball.
Combining for 12 3-pointers over two games Friday, the Eagles spread the scoring love to beat host Waco Midway 59-54 and then roll two-time defending tournament champion Austin Bowie 73-64 to take third place.
"We're going to need that (combined effort)," Ellison coach Alberto Jones said. "We can't get to the playoffs with just Ojai (Black) and Malik (Hawkins)."
Hawkins combined for 33 points and seven 3-pointers, including six against Bowie, as the junior shooting guard nailed three treys in a 26-15 third quarter.
Hawkins finished with 24, while Ojai Black scored all 13 of his points from the foul line and James Jessie and Dajour Smith added 12 and 11, respectively against the Bulldogs.
Black was clutch Friday, with 23 of his 31 total points coming in the fourth quarter, while senior Felix Marbury added a combined 19 to the effort.
Steady Knights cruise to consolation title - Using a balanced scoring attack that saw only Thomas Cherry crack double figures with 10 points, Harker Heights jumped out early and held on for a 54-38 win over Waco Connally in the boys consolation final.
Leading 32-15 at halftime, Heights' defense limited Connally to just 29.5 percent shooting and held off a third-quarter rally by shooting 8-of-10 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
Behind Cherry's 10 were a pair of 8-point efforts from CJ Rodriguez and Dillon Riddick while Trumell McCrimmons and Darius James added six apiece. James also had six blocks.