The fifth-ranked Ellison Eagles got all they could handle from the Waco Midway Panthers on Friday night as they extended their unbeaten district record to 8-0 in District 12-6A with a 44-41 win at home.
The Panthers scored the first five points of the final quarter to take a four-point lead. The Eagles then scored three to cut the Panther lead to one. Down the stretch, the teams traded buckets, but a couple of big steals that led to two different 4-0 runs made the difference for the Eagles.
With the Eagles up one and around 7 seconds to go, senior Nehemiah Nuckolls, was fouled and stepped up to the free-throw line for a 1-and-1. Nuckolls knocked down both to give the Eagles a three-point lead. A last-second desperation 3 went off the backboard and off the front of the
rim for the Panthers and the Eagles held on to win.
“I thought they showed some fight and some heart late,” Ellison coach Alberto Jones Jr. said of his players. “We haven’t been in a game like this ... in a long time, I mean maybe once all year, so I thought we kind of got a little shook and kind of got the, ‘uh oh what’s going on?,’ but I thought we kind of regrouped and in the last couple minutes I thought we played well and with a whole lot of heart.”
Jones said the win and being 8-0 in district with a two-game lead feels good but he knows the Eagles have the second half of district play to go.
The game started fast and the two teams traded buckets throughout the first quarter before the Eagles closed the quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 15-13 lead into the second.
Senior Shamir Bogues scored 10 of the Eagles 15 points in the first quarter, including a couple of big slams that got the crowd into the game.
To start the second quarter, the Eagles continued their run and it ended at 14-3. The Eagles outscored the Panthers 12-6 in the second to take a 27-19 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Bogues led the Eagles with 14 points at the break.
The Panthers came out hot to start the second half and began the half with a 7-0 run. The third quarter ended with the Panthers outscoring the Eagles 13-6 and the Panthers were only down one, 33-32, heading into the third quarter.
Nuckolls led Ellison with 16 points. In addition to the clutch foul shots, he made a couple of big baskets down the stretch.
“I think I did pretty good. I messed up a couple times but people mess up, I did pretty good,” Nuckolls said.
“I feel great, I felt the crowd and they pumped me up. I was doing everything I needed to do,” he said about hitting the two late free throws.
Freshman star Jamyron Keller struggled offensively, scoring only four points, but made a critical steal with 36.5 seconds remaining.
The Eagles killed off nearly 30 seconds before Midway could foul three times and get Ellison to the free throw line.
The Eagles are now 8-0 in District 12-6A and they take on the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs on Tuesday.
The Panthers are now 6-2 in 12-6A and play Waco High at home on Tuesday.
ELLISON 44, WACO MIDWAY 41
Waco Midway (41)
Scott 13, Simmons 3, Byers 10, Ezedinma 12, Calhoun 3, Powell 0.
No. 5 Ellison (44)
Keller 4, Nero 2, Bogues 14, Wright 2, Nuckolls 16, Thomas 0, Stewart 6, Jordan Parks 0.
Midway 13 6 13 9—41
Ellison 15 12 6 11—44
3-Point Goals—Midway 4 (Calhoun, Byers, Ezedinma, Scott), Ellison 2 (Keller, Nuckolls). Free Throws—Midway 13-18, Ellison 6-14. Fouled Out—None
Records—Midway 6-2 12-6A, Ellison 8-0 12-6A.
FRIDAY'S 12-6A BOYS
- Belton 58, Harker Heights 46
- Copperas Cove 59, Killeen 55
- No. 5 Ellison 44, Waco Midway 41
- Temple 63, Shoemaker 50
- BYE: Waco
12-6A BOYS STANDINGS
Waco Midway (6-2)
Copperas Cove (3-5)
Harker Heights (3-5)