The Ellison Eagles rode a 26-game winning streak all the way to the Class 5A state championship basketball game where they finally met their match.
The state’s No. 1-ranked Dallas Kimball Knights ended the Eagles’ best basketball season ever in a 69-48 finish Saturday at the San Antonio Alamodome.
Ellison ended the season with a 38-4 record, the first Eagles’ team to reach the championship final in basketball in school history.
Too many turnovers against a team with five players who average double-digit scoring was Ellison’s undoing, EHS coach Alberto Jones, Jr. said following the game.
A clearly emotional Jones and disheartened team had their sights set on a state title.
Ellison’s 15-year basketball coach, the program’s winningest ever, said that when the initial hurt wears off, the players would appreciate what they accomplished, setting a new standard in Killeen ISD basketball, and etching their names into the history of local sports.
The state final also ended the career of senior Jamyron Keller, the top scorer in Ellison school history, and in Jones’ estimation “the best player to ever come out of Killeen.”
Keller scored 12 Saturday, leading Ellison scorers, but far short of his usual output. He also recorded five rebounds, three assists and a block.
The star guard was playing with a visibly injured leg.
Jones praised the senior’s toughness in playing through the pain. He suffered the injury in Thursday’s semifinal against Mansfield Summit.
Keller didn’t use the injury as an excuse, but praised Jones and acknowledged that the team did the work all year long to get to the championship final.
“Our team put in the work. We should be proud,” he said.
When asked, Keller said support from the community and God’s grace gave him the strength to play through his injury.
He is committed to attend school and play basketball at Oklahoma State University.
Ellison got 10 points from Jo Jo McIver, 8 from Khristian Wilkerson, 6 from Deion Ware and Kesean Garland, 3 from Kristopher White, 2 from Sean Parks and 1 from Ademola Oladipo. All 10 players on Ellison’s roster got playing time.
For Dallas Kimball, Tyler Hankamer led all scorers with 17 points. The other four starters scored 14, 13, 12 and 9 points. Only two other Knights’ players scored in the game. DaCannon Wickware snagged a game-high 18 rebounds.
Ellison’s bench generated 13 points to Kimball’s 4.
Ellison did generate momentum at points in the game as a large crowd of Eagles’ supporters and the Ellison cheerleaders urged them on.
Dallas Kimball scored the first 7 points in the game before the Eagles mounted a 10-1 run, ending the first quarter with a 10-8 lead.
Kimball responded with their best quarter of the game, outscoring Ellison 24-11 to take a 32-21 halftime lead.
Early in the third quarter, a pair of McIver free throws followed by layups from McIver and Ware brought Ellison within 7 points and prompted a Kimball timeout.
The Knights came out of the timeout and went on a 15-4 run to take a 51-33 lead into the fourth quarter.
Still, Ellison wasn’t finished.
With 7:38 left in the game, they trailed by 21 points.
Two minutes later, a Keller 3-pointer and a Garland layup helped Ellison cut the lead to 12, but that was as close as they would come.