Eldridge McAdams knows his team let several opportunities slip away, and that is what hurts the most.
Despite winning the regular season finale against Harker Heights, the Lady Bulldawgs fell just short of reaching the playoffs thanks in part to Killeen’s 41-37 victory against Temple on Tuesday.
Upon hearing his team was eliminated from the postseason, Copperas Cove’s first-year head coach immediately knew where to place the blame.
“It is one of those things where you hoped it wouldn’t come down to this,” McAdams said. “But I just feel like if we would have taken care of our business, then we wouldn’t have needed to rely on Killeen to win.”
Playing in a must-win situation, the Lady Bulldawgs delivered a 72-70 victory to conclude their season after surviving a furious comeback attempt by the Lady Knights.
After leading 16-9 following the first quarter and 30-23 at halftime, Copperas Cove found itself in a fight to the finish as Heights senior guard Angela DeLaney exploded for 22 of her game-high 29 points in the second half.
The Lady Knights came back and held a 39-37 lead in the third quarter, but the Lady Bulldawgs were able to keep their district foes at bay for the duration of the game. Nevertheless, Heights was relentlessly attacking until the final buzzer.
Copperas Cove junior Angel Mullen made a pair of free throws with 12.5 seconds remaining to give her team a four-point advantage, 72-68, but the Lady Knights responded with a quick layup before a botched inbound pass turned the ball over to Heights for a final shot.
It would not fall for the Lady Knights, though, leaving McAdams and the Lady Bulldawgs (17-12, 7-7 District 8-5A) to await their fate. Once word arrived, disappointment and regret instantly began sinking in.
“I look at every game that we lost and should have won,” he said. “I have to look at that.”
Regardless of the outcome, McAdams believes his team showed intensity as it fought for its postseason life.
“They played with a passion,” he said. “They played with an urgency, and from the start we said we had to win this game.”
In the final game of their high school careers, seniors Brittany Gamble and Bryaunea Hall shared team-high scoring honors, finishing with 15 points apiece, while Xylina Carlisle added nine points and Tateyana Harris scored two.
Considering the situation, McAdams could not have asked for anything more from the group this season.
“I just want to thank all the girls, the seniors especially,” he said. “They’ve had three head coaches in the last four years. That’s tough, so I just appreciate them, and I wish I could have got them to the playoffs.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org