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Ellender stops late Patterson rally

Ellender was at risk of losing its fourth straight game during Tuesday's nondistrict contest against Patterson.

The Patriots held a 10-point lead in the third quarter, but the Lumberjacks rallied all the way back to take a one-point advantage with 1:12 left in the fourth quarter.

But Ellender tightened up late and escaped with a 61-56 win over the Lumberjacks.

The Patriots (15-3 overall) had seven fourth-quarter turnovers, which Patterson (8-2) took advantage off when Nehemiah Augustus (16 points) scored a lay-up off a steal that gave the Lumberjacks a 56-55 lead with 1:12 left.

After Ellender's Justen Harris scored a putback that put the home team on top 57-56 with 50.1 seconds remaining, the Lumberjacks committed a critical turnover when Taylon Grogan was called for a traveling violation with 38 seconds remaining.

The Patriots used aggressive rebounding and a pair free throws from Curtis Anderson and Leland Alexander in the final seconds to pull off the win.

Ellender coach Cornell Scott said the Patriots knew they had to turn it up late to pull out the win.

"Good teams make runs," Scott said. "We knew they were going to make a run. We just had to make that last run."

Patterson coach Ryan Taylor said the Lumberjacks didn't seize their opportunity to win the game late, especially after they took a brief lead following Augustus' lay-up.

"When we went up by 1, they took their shot and missed it. I was like get the rebound. We didn't get the next one either," Taylor said. "Eventually they are going to make a shot. They are too athletic and too good as a team to give them three or four chances ... When you play games like this, you hope it's close at the end and you get a chance to win. We had our chances. We just didn't quite finish it."

Ellender, which is ranked No. 11 in the recent unofficial Class 4A boys state basketball power rankings, got off to a slow start and trailed 21-12 at the end of the first quarter, but it went on a 20-4 second quarter run to go into halftime with a 32-25 lead.

Scott said the Patriots did a good job of keeping their composure in the first quarter after several of his players got into foul trouble.

"We had to adjust to what the referees were giving us," Scott said. "Once I felt like they adjusted, then they were able to settle down a little bit. Patterson is a good team — big, strong and physical. They attack the basket hard, so we had to keep them out the lane a little bit. Once we figured out how to play defense without fouling, then I think we did a lot better."

The Patriots built their largest lead of the game at 12 points (44-32) when Andre Tillman (16 points) drained a jumper with 3;15 left in the third quarter. Patterson started its slow climb back into the game in the final stages of the third, using a 9-0 run to cut Ellender's lead to 46-40 at the end of the third quarter.

Patterson stepped up its pressure in the fourth quarter by forcing turnovers and getting 3-pointers from Dontrell Benjamin and Grogan to chop Ellender's advantage to 52-51 with 2:41 remaining. Alexander responded with a 3-pointer to give a little breathing room at 55-51 before the wild finish in the final minutes.

Alexander, who scored 11 first-half points, finished with 15, and Anderson had 10 for Ellender. Scott said he was proud of how Ellender rallied in the fourth quarter to snapped its three-game losing skid.

"We had a couple of miscues. It could go either way. That ball could bounce either way," Scott said. "We pride ourselves in being able to score points in the fourth quarter by finishing shots, lay-ups, free throws with our conditioning. I was proud of my guys for getting back on defense. Even though we missed a couple, we still pushed back to contest the shots. That helped us out toward the end."