The Ellison boys basketball team lost only one game in 2020. The ninth-ranked Eagles matched that number in their 2021 debut, falling 41-35 at Harker Heights on Tuesday.
Terrance Carter scored 21 points for the Knights, who bounced back from a pair of losses that knocked them out of the rankings after debuting at No. 24.
Ellison, which was 31-1 in 2020, saw its 35-game regular season winning streak come to an end. The Eagles' last non-playoff loss was Dec. 7, 2019, against Sulphur Springs (55-53) in a tournament.
The Eagles' 23-game district win streak also ended. Shoemaker was the last league team to beat Ellison (63-58) on Jan. 22, 2019.
While low scoring, the game was not without its fair share of action. Leading the way for the Eagles (15-1, 2-1 12-6A) were Jamyron Keller with 19 points, Dante Tutein and Jayce Wright both scored six.
Antwan Taylor added 10 points for the Knights (2-1 12-6A), and C.J Evans had eight.
“I thought early on we were kind of sleepwalking,” Ellison coach Alberto Jones Jr. said. “It was kind of close. Late, I thought we picked up a little bit, but by the end of the game their big guys made plays. That was the difference. Their guys made plays, and we couldn’t hit a shot.”
Harker Heights coach Celneque Bobbitt said the game will go down as an instant classic.
“I have to tip our hats off to Ellison,” Bobbitt said. “It was a dogfight.”
After establishing a pace that would define the rest of the game, the Ellison Eagles were up 12-4 by the end of the first quarter.
While the Eagles remained in front 18-15 at the end of the half, the second quarter undeniably belonged to the Knights.
Bobbitt said at halftime he took his players to the smaller gym on campus so they could practice their free throws. While Bobbitt said he doesn’t believe free throws is what won them the game, it showed his team how serious he and the situation was.
The third quarter held several shifts in momentum. By the end, the Eagles expanded in their lead to 29-24.
The fourth quarter presented the Knights with their final chance to take a lead and secure a victory in front of their home crowd. With a minute left, Harker Heights moved in front, 34-33.
The Knights clung to that lead for the remainder of the game, handing the Eagles a rare setback.
“We got to take this one, learn from it, and get ready for Friday,” Jones said.
Bobbitt said Ellison came and did everything they were supposed to, making it the competitive game it was.
“It’s really early (in the season) we still have a lot of games left,” Bobbitt said. “So, right now, you know, it’s just who’s going to show up, who’s going to play, and who’s going to stay healthy.”
Both teams return to action Friday. The Eagles are back on the road to face 12-6A leader Belton (12-2, 3-0). The Knights are also on the road at Killeen. Both games are slated to tip off at 7 p.m.
12-6A BOYS BASKETBALL
Harker Heights 2-1
Copperas Cove 1-2
- Belton 82, Copperas Cove 67
- Bryan 76, Temple 55
- Harker Heights 41, No. 9 Ellison 35
- Shoemaker 59, Killeen 56