Ellington had more than revenge on his mind on Thursday night at the Best of the Summer Tournament.
Sure, he wanted to help the Playaz Gold squad beat the EBO team that had ousted it from the adidas Super 64 on Monday afternoon, but more importantly, he wanted his team to advance to the next round of action at the Best of the Summer.
Ellington, of course, accomplished both goals, scoring 19 of his game high 27 points in the second half as the Playaz Gold handed out a dose of revenge in a thrilling 75-74 come from behind victory.
"It was a big game because they had beaten us in Las Vegas," Ellington explained. "I just came out, I wanted it real bad, so I went all out."
While his offensive contribution in the second half was critical, equally impressive was Ellington's understanding of the situation. With the Playaz falling behind by double figures early in the second half, he made it a point to drive hard to the basket and get fouled, lengthening the game in the process.
That allowed the Playaz Gold to score points with the clock stopped, and then when Ellington's three began to rain down like a tropical storm, it was clear that the momentum had shifted against EBO.
Trailing 60-45, Ellington hit a trio of three pointers and a deep midrange jumper in a 19-5 surge to trim EBO's lead to 65-64 with 4:36 remaining. A technical foul against EBO's Brook Lopez during the run was also key, as Brandon Costner hit four of four free throws at the 6:20 mark to bring the deficit under single digits.
"When I knocked down the threes, it felt good, it felt like I was in a zone," Ellington explained. "I just knocked them down."
Gerald Henderson's athletic follow of an Ellington miss with 3:17 to play gave the Playaz their first lead (67-66) since late in the first half. With the game deadlocked the game at 68, Henderson gave the Playaz the lead for good at the 1:45 mark with a stick-back that made it 70-68.
Critical late free throw misses hurt EBO's chance to regain the lead. Over the final 1:38, the team missed five of six attempts from the charity stripe. Trailing 73-71, Trayvon Willis missed a pair with 7.8 seconds left that might have sent the game into overtime.
Brandon Costner grabbed the defensive rebound for the Playaz, and hit a pair from the stripe with six seconds left to give the Playaz a 75-71 edge. Willis' three pointer with a second remaining only made the result cosmetically prettier for EBO.
Willis, who scored 16 of his team high 25 points in the first half, paced the EBO attack. Forward Titus Shelton (11 points) and center Brook Lopez (10 points) also recorded double figures for EBO.
Costner added 12 points for the Playaz and the athletic small forward Henderson chipped in nine points. Notre Dame bound Ryan Ayers chipped in eight.
After a nip and tuck first half, EBO used a 15-1 surge that bridged the first and second halves to take a 44-30 advantage early in the second half.
Willis was instrumental in the run, scoring on a drive and a deep three-pointer to give EBO a 36-30 lead with under a minute to play in the first half. Brook Lopez finished on the end of a fast break just as the half-time buzzer sounded to stretch the lead to 38-30 at the intermission.
When EBO began the first half with a 6-0 run capped by a Brook Lopez bucket to push the cushion to 44-30, the Playaz were reeling and on the verge of getting blown out. That is, until Ellington stepped up his game.
Ellington has listed many high majors in our interviews with him -- including Villanova, Arizona, St. Joe's, Connecticut, North Carolina, Duke, and Kentucky.