Harker Heights coach Celneque Bobbit knows what awaits his team next week.
It’s the reason his Knights’ schedule has been every bit as difficult as it has been hectic since Thanksgiving.
From changing clothes in the bleachers to make the next game to chartering a bus to set up a date with Class 4A No. 1 Alamo Heights, the Knights have done everything possible to ensure they are prepared when 8-5A play opens next week.
“All this that we’re doing up to this point don’t mean nothing because I’ve got Ellison and I’ve got Shoemaker (to start district play) and that’s a hell of a way to go into Christmas,” Bobbitt said.
There will be no time for Heights to work its way up to the heavyweights once district play starts.
So instead, Heights has been building up to it in non-district play.
The No. 11 Knights’ only loss this season came to Alamo Heights, a game that Bobbitt had to charter a bus to play in.
But after weather drastically altered the Curtis Culwell Invitational in Garland, where the Knights were originally supposed to play last weekend, Bobbitt wasn’t going to miss the chance for his team to get its latest non-district test.
“They called and were like, ‘coach, you can play the No. 1 team in 4A or you can play a top team in 5A,’ and I was like, ‘we’ll be there -- if we can get a bus.’”
Bobbitt got his game, and Heights lost its first game of the season, but the Knights were happy to have had the test in the end.
The same can be said of Tuesday when Heights faced a game Pflugerville team -- one that will likely resemble the opponents the Knights face in District 8-5A.
The Panthers are athletic and rangy, and even better, they are well-rounded with big bodies to clean up the boards and shooters to stretch the defense.
But Heights did what winning teams do in games that are evenly matched.
The Knights were patient on offense, routinely passing on long shots for ones closer to the bucket. When Pflugerville made the Knights earn, it they did, finishing 31 of 42 at the free throw line.
And Heights tightened up on the defensive end, cutting off the penetration that hurt it early in the game and limiting, to a degree, the second chances that the Panthers were getting after Heights had managed to stop them the first time.
These types of small adjustments were perhaps the most encouraging sign for Heights as the Knights won’t be able to overpower opponents, like they did a week earlier against God’s Academy, often in district play.
They certainly won’t be able to do so if they advance deep in the playoffs.
So, Bobbitt is putting his team in similar situations early in the season, and the returns look promising for now.
But like he said sitting in his office after the win against Pflugerville, now isn’t the time to tell if a stiff non-district schedule has paid dividends.
The only true way to tell if all of Heights’ preparation has paid off is if the Knights continue winning when the games count in the district standings.
Contact Jordan Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7562