By Tony Adams
The Belton Lady Tigers went into Tuesday night’s contest with Killeen Ellison at Tiger Gym with the potential of not only staying above the pack near the playoff cutoff line, but to put themselves in the playoffs as well.
The Lady Eagles were bound and determined to not let that happen. And went an extra period to do so.
Ellison came out physical in the overtime session and outscored the Lady Tigers 12-6 to steal away a 57-51 win from Belton.
The Lady Tigers are 21-9 on the season and 5-5 in District 12-6A play. The loss is an important loss, as Belton fell into a fourth-place tie with idle Shoemaker. Copperas Cove defeated Harker Heights Tuesday night to pull to within a half-game of Shoemaker and Belton. Wins in the final two games will lock up a playoff spot. A win and losses by Cove and Shoemaker also clinch a playoff spot.
Feliziana Davis opened the scoring converting 1-of-2 free throws 51 seconds into the game. Hannah Martin scored Belton’s first five points and La’Praisjan Johnson answered with the next five points for Ellison. Emily Del Real hit a three-pointer from the right corner and Cielo McClain answered with the final five points of the quarter for the Lady Eagles, who led 10-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Madison Hattix-Covington netted the first points of the quarter with 5:03 to play in the first half for Ellison. After Cammie Moore scored her first points of the game on a drive into the paint, Hattix-Covington answered with a long three-pointer from the right elbow to give Ellison a 15-10 lead. Kale Kincannon converted a pair of free throws and Del Real hit a three-pointer at the top of the key to pull to Lady Tigers to within a point. McClain and Hattix-Covington hit buckets near the end of the half before Martin hit a three-pointer at the top of the key as the buzzer sounded to end the half, 21-18.
Martin scored Belton’s first bucket of the third quarter, driving into the lane. The score was answered with a three-pointer at the top of the key by Hattix-Covington to make the score 24-20 Ellison. Moore’s put back with 5:23 to go in the quarter set Belton off on a 12-3 run to round out the quarter, with Blair Gilbert hitting a three-pointer from the left corner, Moore scoring off of a steal and banking a shot off the glass for another score, Del Real sinking a pair of free throws and Keilee Burke hitting free throw to give Belton a five-point advantage at the end of the third quarter, 32-27.
Ellison made a rare error during a free throw sequence with 6:36 to play. Burke was fouled by Johnson and Burke went to the line for a pair of free throws. Belton pulled their four non-shooters into the backcourt, leaving just a quartet of Lady Eagles at the line. Burke missed both free throws, but the four Ellison players watched Burke grab her own rebound and lay it into the basket.
However, Ellison made that play the fuel for a 16-6 run and give the Lady Eagles a 43-40 lead with 1:01 to play. Belton called time out to regroup and set up a play to get them the tying score.
The Lady Eagles had a second miscue when they failed to guard Gilbert on the inbound pass at mid court. Gilbert found an unguarded Moore, who took the pass and drained a 21-foot three-pointer from the right elbow to tie the ball game at 43-43.
McClain gave Ellison the lead on a jumper with 22.5 seconds to play in regulation and Gilbert answered with a mid-range jumper eight seconds later. Ellison called time out with 9.7 seconds to play to set up the last shot. However, in the process of play, McClain received the ball and held it, confused as the final seconds ticked off of the clock.
In the overtime session, Belton was called for six fouls in extra four minutes to none for Ellison. The free throws ended up the difference in the ball game, as Ellison went 10-of-12 in overtime.
The Lady Tigers travel to Hewitt to take on Midway on Friday night and wrap up the regular season at home Tuesday night against Harker Heights on Senior night.