The Ellison Eagles basketball team received a hero’s send-off Wednesday as they boarded a charter bus and under police escort made their way to San Antonio and the State Basketball Tournament.
The Eagles square off in a semifinal Thursday against the Mansfield Summit Jaguars in an 8:30 p.m. tipoff at the Alamodome.
As Ellison Principal David Dominguez pointed out at a pep rally prior to the send-off, it’s been 30 years since the Eagles last sent a team to the basketball semifinals.
The Eagles have played a lights-out brand of basketball this season and students, staff and guests got fired up in the Ellison gym with a glow-in-the-dark pep rally to celebrate the occasion.
Cheerleaders, Ellison Emeralds dance team members, the band and the girls’ basketball team all performed during the rally.
Announcer and Band Director Eric Reynolds announced every name on the roster, finishing with the starting five.
Team members and coaches walked through a double spirit line to their parked bus with the band playing and spirit groups cheering.
The Eagles are in a position to make history. They are the first Ellison basketball team since 1993 to get to the semifinals.
An Ellison win Thursday would propel the Eagles to the championship game Saturday. That would be a first for any Killeen ISD high school.
After winning the district, the team seemed to step it up even more.
In five playoff games this season, Ellison has not been seriously challenged, averaging a 24-point margin of victory.
The Eagles enter the state tournament ranked second statewide.
They have been high in the rankings all season.
In an open practice media event earlier in the week, Head Coach Alberto Jones and senior star Jamyron Keller said they were enjoying the moment but remained focused on the goal of winning it all.
Ellison has a 37-3 record, and they are riding a 25-game win streak.
They face 11th-ranked Mansfield Summit, coached by former Shoemaker coach Edmund Prichett, who graduated from Ellison and played alongside Jones. They are 34-4.
To follow the action, tune in to FM MY 95.1.