“This is a miserable world,” says the Sergeant. “Human life, Mr. Betteredge, is a sort of target—misfortune is always firing at it, and always hitting the mark.” — Wilkie Collins, “The Moonstone”
Celneque Bobbitt sat for several minutes dumbfounded.
It had happened again. They were so close too.
But for the 21st time since 2005, it was the Killeen-area school mourning their season after coming up short against the Dallas-area superpower in the playoffs.
“It was almost like that ‘Groundhog Day’ (movie) — it’s the same way, the same day when it comes down to playing basketball (against Dallas teams),” Bobbitt said.
This time after Harker Heights fell 35-30 in a bi-district playoff game to fourth-ranked South Grand Prairie, the loss stung a little bit more because the upset was well within grasp.
Thirty minutes earlier the Knights players were celebrating in the Hillsboro locker room as it held a 20-15 halftime lead over No. 4 South Grand Prairie in their Class 5A bi-district playoff game Tuesday.
Heights kept its advantage throughout the third quarter, nursing a meager 27-24 advantage entering the fourth quarter. But in the final four minutes, the junior-laden Knights were 0-for-6 from the field and turned the ball over six times.
“The Killeen bug came back to get us, phantom turnovers here or there, a missed layup,” Bobbitt said.
Although he wasn’t disappointed with the way his team played, shifting their focus to lock-down defense as Heights stifled South Grand Prairie’s potent offense for the game’s first 28 minutes, Bobbitt couldn’t believe how close they were to finally subduing one of the best Dallas had to offer.
When it comes to win-or-go-home games between the CenTex and the Metroplex, it’s not much of a question who’s going to come out on top. Since the 2005 season, Killeen ISD boys basketball teams have been eliminated by Dallas-area programs in 21 of the 27 games in which Killeen-area teams were knocked out of the playoffs. The other six losses came courtesy of Austin-area programs like Pflugerville and Lake Travis.
Of course, it hasn’t always been one-and-done situations. Two years ago, both Ellison and Harker Heights advanced to the regional quarterfinals before succumbing to DeSoto and Lakeview Centennial one game shy of the regional tournament.
Having already knocked off Duncanville on Monday, the Eagles (28-6) — in their 19th consecutive playoff appearance — have a shot to return the favor against Flower Mound and former Killeen head coach Jason Fossett.
But if KISD teams are ever going to shed their Dallas-sized specter in the postseason, it’s going to take more than a couple close calls.