State basketball: Emarion Ellis carries Assumption past Dallas Center-Grimes in 3A quarterfinals

Dargan Southard
Des Moines Register

It's easy to highlight him, stress stopping him and point out his importance on every possession. Actually containing Emarion Ellis on the court is a different story. 

Dallas Center-Grimes learned the hard way. 

Ellis, the Texas signee and Davenport Assumption star, torched the No. 4 seed Mustangs at every level Tuesday afternoon en route to a dominant performance. Those efforts propelled the fifth-seeded Knights to a 56-42 win in the Class 3A quarterfinals at Wells Fargo Arena. 

With the win, Assumption (19-6) will face top-seeded Ballard of Huxley in Thursday's semifinal at 2 p.m. 

Ellis made it clear early he wasn't messing around. Fourteen of his game-high 25 points came in the first half, as Ellis buried NBA treys, got what he wanted at the rim and did equal work on the defensive end. Dallas Center-Grimes (20-4) stayed within reach, but a long 3-pointer from Ellis right before the first-quarter horn ignited a 33-29 halftime lead. 

Assumption's grip only strengthened in the second half. The Mustangs were in a double-digit hole barely two minutes into the third quarter. An unsuccessful game of catch-up saw Dallas Center-Grimes get within seven on several second-half occasions — but no closer. 

Ellis was the primary reason for that. In addition to his scoring — which came on 9-for-18 shooting with three treys — the future Longhorn added a team-high seven rebounds and five assists. He consistently found open teammates when not firing away himself. Double-digit assistance came from J.J. Stratman, who had 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting. 

"That was a pretty complete game," Knights coach Matt Fitzpatrick said. "Emarion had complete control the whole time. As a coach, it is a pretty good feeling having a guy out there with the ball in his hands that much who is that composed and making those type of decisions.”

More from boys' state basketball:

Luke Rankin led Dallas Center-Grimes with 13 points. The Mustangs also got 11 from Alex Thomas, who led the team with five field goals. Cole Glasgow — a Division I prospect in his own right with offers from North Dakota State, South Dakota State, South Dakota and St. Thomas — was held to eight points. As a team, the Mustangs scored just 13 after the break.

Now we get to see what Assumption can do with this quality start. Ballard has stumbled only once this season, but another effort like this from Ellis could shake up this 3A bracket.               

“I told our guys to enjoy this, have fun and remember why we’re here," Fitzpatrick said. "Each game gets more important and bigger. I’m happy these kids are getting a chance to experience it.”

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at msouthard@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.