MAN ON FIRE
Fri, 2017-01-06 05:00 News Staff
Cove junior Justus Honea hits three from downtown in 4th to lead Cove past Ellison 48-46
By TJ MAXWELL
The old saying, ‘luck is where preparation meets opportunity’ can be used to describe the latest run of the Copperas Cove boys’ basketball team.
Cove’s Justus Honea has been putting in extra work on his shooting and it is paying off. The junior hit five three-pointers, including 3-for-3 in the fourth quarter, and had six assists to help seal the Dawgs’ 48-46 win over the Ellison Eagles in District 8-6A play Tuesday at Bulldawg Gymnasium.
“I strive for that moment,” Honea said of his clutch fourth-quarter shooting. “I put in extra hours in the gym just for times like that.”
Struggling to bury shots earlier in the year cost the Dawgs some marks in the win column but attention to detail and grinding it out on the practice floor has Cove hitting those shots and putting tick marks in the win column.
“At the beginning of the year we always had our feet not ready. Later in the year we were staying in the gym extra hours working on drills to make sure our feet are ready and ready for every shot when the opportunity comes.”
The Dawgs led much of the first half but found themselves trailing by a point with just over five minutes to play.
That’s when Honea caught fire.
He hit three shots from downtown for a solo 9-0 Cove run to take a 45-37 lead with 1:13 remaining and, after an 8-0 Ellison run knotted the game at 45-all with 1:05 remaining, junior Neyland Block iced the game with the fourth Cove three-pointer of the quarter.
“Justus Honea shot the ball really well,” said Cove head coach Billy White Jr. “He’s ready to shoot when he catches the ball and he’s letting it fly. The coaching staff tells Justus all the time that, ‘We have complete trust and faith in you shooting the basketball so, if you get an open look, you take that shot.’ Neyland Block was another one who made some big shots for us.”
Although the offense of Honea and Block get the glory in the win, White says it’s the grinding play of the unsung heroes that really deserves the credit for the win.
“Jy Rice and Dahmir Pearson are guys that won’t ever be in the box scores or written about because they don’t score a lot of points and stuff like that but they are the two guys that make the thing go,” said White. “They don’t get a lot of recognition but they sure make this thing go.”
Honea admits watching his guys like Pearson and Rice grinding it out on every possession helps fuel his shooting fire.
“It does,” he said. “Them diving all over the place pushes us through all the hard times. They make our team go. They are the gas to our fire.”
“It gets the whole team going,” he said. “You can’t help but play hard after watching your teammate do something like that.”
The win by Cove was the first district win over rival Ellison since January of 2014.
“It’s (a) great (win), especially anytime we get a win in district,” said White. “Ellison is a great ball club. Coach Jones does a great job with those kids over there. I am very proud of my guys for sticking to the game plan, executing and making plays. The entire group did an exceptional job. That was a total group effort. Even guys that didn’t touch the floor were into the game and doing what we needed them to do. They were even making suggestions so it was a complete team effort.”
Honea knows it was a big win in the grand scheme of things but also knows they must get back to the grind.
“It was huge,” he said. “We knew we couldn’t go 0-2. Beating that team puts us on a higher level but we just have to keep going and keep playing.”
The Dawgs (13-8, 1-1 in District 8-6A) have won four of their five games since coming off the Christmas break, including their 48-46 win over Ellison Friday at home.
“Basketball is a long season, especially when you are the smaller team,” said White. “You get bruised up and banged up and there’s a point where it starts to wear on you. It was a perfect time for us to go on break. We’ve come back from break and we are 4-1. We just have to continue to grind and continue to fight.”
Ellison head coach Alberto Jones wasn’t happy with the energy of his squad in the loss but puts the onus of that on himself.
“I thought they outplayed us and they wanted it more than us,” he said. “When they went up 9-0, I thought there was something wrong with the mentality. I’ve got to do a better job of getting these guys prepared to play and focused.”
Cove jumped out on the Eagles early to build a 9-0 lead with Honea recording two of his team-high six assists and one three-pointer. Block scored the first bucket on a quick play after the opening tip before Honea had his hand in the next seven points with dishes to Rice and junior Daveon Thomas sandwiching the three.
A driving basket by sophomore Quinton Ford and a pair of free throws by Person pushed Cove’s lead to 13-2 before the Eagles finished the frame on a 12-6 run to cut the Cove lead to five, 19-15.
A three-pointer by Block put Cove back up by six, 22-16, early in the second but another run by the Eagles flipped the lead to Ellison at the break, 29-26. Four Cove turnovers contributed to the run.
Ellison senior Michael Aranda and junior Marvin Caines combined for 6-for-6 free throws and senior Ronald Williams ha a steal for a layup to pull within one. A three and a two by senior Dajuan Jones closed out the Eagles’ run.
The momentum flipped by to Cove when a hustle play by Rice and Pearson resulted in a steal for a layup from Rice to Pearson to cut the lead to one and another hustle play and drive by Pearson put Cove back on top 30-29 with 5:31 remaining in the period.
“Jy deflected the ball, deflected it again, saved the ball out of bounds to Dahmir for a layup,” said White. “It’s stuff like that those guys do all the time.”
Pearson and Block added eight points each to Honea’s game-high 17 followed by Thomas (5), Rice (4), Alvarado (2), Cooley (2) and Ford (2).
Aranda scored 15 to lead the Eagles with Jones (13), Casey Armour (7) and Elijah Moleon (5) following.
The Eagles fall to 15-5 and 1-1 in district play.
The Bulldawgs return to action tonight on the road at Shoemaker (12-7, 1-1) while the Eagles will host Harker Heights (10-7, 1-1).
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