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Ellender boys fall in second round of playoffs


John Marcase

For the Alexandria Town Talk

TIOGA — Fifth-seeded Tioga continued one of the greatest seasons in the school’s history by turning back No. 12 Ellender, 52-43, on Wednesday night in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

The win was not only Tioga’s 30th of the season, but the District 3-4A champions advanced to the state quarterfinals, where they will travel to face fourth-seeded St. Thomas More.

It’s been so long since Tioga (30-4) has had postseason success, no one is quite sure the last time the Indians reached the quarterfinals.

“My grandfather is 90 years old and he helped start the football program here,” Tioga coach Lance Brasher said, “and he couldn’t remember. He was asking me.”

The Indians shook off a cold start in a game that was delayed a day due to Tuesday’s wintry weather.

Trailing 8-6 entering the second quarter, guard Terrence Cobb keyed a 19-4 Tioga run as the Indians raced to a 25-12 lead. They would lead by double digits the rest of the game until Ellender’s final basket in the closing seconds.

“My job is to lead the team,” said Cobb, who led Tioga with 15 points. “Just get out and push on the fast break.”

Cobb’s first field goal came on a drive to the basket for a 12-10 lead. After Aaron Epps added a jumper in the lane, Cobb came back with an up-and-under move in which he was fouled, hitting the free throw for the three-point play.

Lentai Hall scored all six of his first-half point in the run, as well, a floater in the lane giving the Indians a 22-12 advantage. He finished with 12 points.

Brasher said Tioga’s defense led to their offense.

“We got some stops defensively, and that led to some easy baskets,” he said.

That defense was led by Epps. The LSU signee struggled offensively, but still made an impact with 10 blocks to go with seven points. Ellender shot 29 percent from the floor (18-of-62). Epps set the tone by blocking Ellender’s first two field goal attempts.

“Aaron struggled offensively,” Brasher said. “They were real physical, but he still dominated off his defensive presence.”

“We just didn’t knock down some shots,” Ellender coach Cornell Scott, whose team finished 26-5, said. “There were some shots we normally hit. We knew the assignments. We just didn’t do what we were supposed to.”

During Tioga’s second-quarter run, the Patriots had seven straight possessions in which they missed a 3-point shot and went more than 6 minutes without a field goal.

Any chance of Ellender making a late run ended at the free-throw line as Tioga was 13-for-17 from the line in the fourth quarter, and 17-of-21 for the game.

Curtis Anderson came off the bench to lead Ellender with 16 points, 14 of which came in the second half.