Bulldawgs unable to hold off no. 4 Eagles in 75-61 loss
By TJ MAXWELL
The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs battled one of the top programs in the state Tuesday night at Bulldawg Gymnasium where they held their own in the first and third quarters, but let the game get away when the no. 4 ranked Ellison Eagles closed the first half on a 31-12 run on their way to a 75-61 win.
“They are the no. 4 team in the state,” said Copperas Cove head boys’ basketball coach Travis Boyce Jr. “We’re not going to make any excuses for that. I felt like our guys played hard, but they are a solid team. They are probably the most athletic team we will see this year.”
The Bulldawgs looked up for the challenge as they raced out to a 16-9 lead to open the contest. A putback and a floater by junior Alonnie Carter along with a spin to the basket and putback by junior Lakyi Ellison knotted the game at 8-all after a three-pointer by senior Mathias Nero gave Ellison their first lead of the game at 8-6.
Cove senior Ahmad Pierce answered back with a three-pointer and a putback before a driving basket by senior Isaiah Sobers gave the Bulldawgs their largest lead at 16-9.
The Eagles quickly erased the lead with a pair of trips to the free throw line by freshman Jamyron Keller where he connected on 3 of 4, a dunk by senior Shamir Bogues and a basket by senior Nehemiah Nuckolls that knotted the game at 18-all.
A basket by Ellison Bogues and two free throws by Cove junior Jon McDowell made it an 18-18 contest after one quarter.
The Eagles came out firing in the second quarter with dunks by junior Trendon Stewart and Nuckolls along with a basket by Nuckolls, a baseline drive by Bogues and a pair of free throws by Stewart for a 28-20 lead. Cove’s scoring came on a pair of technical foul free throws by Cove freshman Warren Fleming.
The Eagles pushed their lead to 14 with baskets by Nuckolls, Bogues, junior Jayce Wright, junior Deondra Thomas, Nero and Keller for a 40-26 lead. Free throws by Sobers and senior Jerome Gaillard along with a basket by Sobers and a goal-tending call that resulted in a basket for senior Nisher Marks accounted for Cove’s scoring in the run.
After a pair of free throws by Cove’s Sobers with 45 seconds left in the half, an emphatic dunk by Nuckolls closed the half 42-28 for the Eagles.
“It started before the second quarter,” Boyce said of the Eagles’ run. “We had that 16-9 lead, then we started turning the ball over and that allowed them to make that run. We had 23 turnovers at half time.”
The Bulldawgs narrowed the Eagles’ lead to single digits, 51-42, with a 14-9 run in the third quarter.
Pierce opened the second half with a three-pointer, but the Eagles responded with consecutive three-pointers that sandwiched a basket by Cove’s Ellison and a putback by Nero for a 17-point Eagles’ lead, 50-33. Baskets by Sobers and Ellison, along with two free throws by Ellison and a three-pointer by Carter helped Cove pull within nine, 51-42, at the end of three quarters.
The Eagles took back control of the game with an 11-5 run for a 62-47 lead with baskets by Bogues and Keller, a three-pointer by Nero and free throws by Stewart and Nuckolls. A trey by Pierce and a putback by Fleming accounted for Cove’s scoring.
Scores by Nuckolls, Wright, Stewart and Nero closed out the scoring for the Eagles while scores by Ellison, McDowell, Sobers and Fleming closed the scoring for the Bulldawgs in the 75-61 final.
Pierce and Ellison finished with 13 points each to lead the Bulldawgs. Followed by Sobers (12), Fleming (8), Carter (7), McDowell (5), Marks (2) and Gaillard (1).
Bogues and Nero had 16 points each to lead the Eagles, followed by Nuckolls (15), Keller (13), Stewart (7), and four each from Thomas and Wright.
Ellison (9-0 in District 12-6A) returns to action at home against the Harker Heights Knights (3-5) while the Bulldawgs (3-6) will travel to Waco to take on the Lions (2-7). The Bulldawgs are two games behind Shoemaker in the fourth and final playoff spot.