Copperas Cove is on a three-game losing streak, and Billy White Jr. is not concerned.
After winning 22 of their first 23 games to start the season, the Bulldawgs’ fortunes reversed. Since returning from the holiday break, little has gone Copperas Cove’s way, falling in three consecutive District 8-6A games by a combined eight points.
But the skid does not alarm the Bulldawgs’ head coach.
“I honestly don’t think this is affecting us mentally,” White said. “But we do have to eliminate our recent issue of starting slow.
“We’re a senior-led team, so we can’t continue to come out and start slow.”
In each of Copperas Cove’s previous district losses, the Bulldawgs fell into immediate holes, trailing Ellison by 16 points in the second quarter and allowing Shoemaker to record the game’s first 11 points before rallying.
And the trend continued Tuesday as Copperas Cove missed eight of nine field-goal attempts in the first quarter, scoring just four points against visiting Harker Heights in the period.
Although the Bulldawgs responded and led 58-53 with less than two minutes remaining, the Knights closed the contest with six unanswered points to win 65-62.
Despite the game’s finish, White is confident the opening quarter doomed Copperas Cove.
“Our starts have been killing us,” he said. “We’ve started extremely slow in each of the past three games, and it cost us.
“That’s been our Achilles heel.”
The Knights’ comeback spoiled a team-high 24-point outing for Bulldawgs junior Quinton Ford, who recorded 13 of his points in the fourth quarter. Copperas Cove guard Tyrese Cooley complemented the outing with a 10-point, three-assist performance, drawing compliments from Harker Heights head coach Celneque Bobbitt following the contest.
“He was a little floor general out there,” Bobbitt said. “He played hard.
“I didn’t think he’d be able to do the things he did, but he was balling, and I could tell he was trying to put the team on his shoulders at the end.”
Additionally, guard Daveon Stringer and senior Justus Honea each scored nine points for the Bulldawgs, who fell into a tie with Belton for sixth place in the district standings.
No. 12 Ellison continues to lead the field with a perfect 4-0 record, while Waco Midway and Shoemaker follow at 3-1. With Tuesday’s victory, Harker Heights (2-2) moves into a tie with Killeen for fourth place, and San Angelo Central is 0-4.
Copperas Cove (22-4, 1-3) travels to face Killeen tonight with the tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m., and White expects another difficult game.
“This district is really competitive every year,” White said. “It’s just like that.
“It’s a tough race every year and a tough game every time we step on the court. We understand that.”