Shirretha Nelson did not recognize her team.

After spending weeks working through the schedule in anticipation of last week’s District 8-6A opener at Killeen, Harker Heights’ head coach felt she was standing on the court among strangers. The faces remained the same, but something changed.

And it proved detrimental.

The Lady Knights never led after the opening moments of the third quarter as the Lady Kangaroos earned a 50-43 victory.

Following the defeat, Nelson admitted it was an uncharacteristic performance.

“I was trying to find any remnants of my team,” she said, “and I couldn’t find who we’d been all season long.

“We just looked very flat, and I don’t know why.”

Harker Heights entered the second half trailing 26-25 but claimed a one-point advantage as junior Celise Bobbitt’s steal led to a fastbreak layup, but the cushion quickly deflated.

Killeen responded with nine unanswered points, and the Lady Knights never recovered despite getting within a single possession on multiple occasions behind Bobbitt’s game-high 15-point outing.

Sophomore teammate Destiny Pemberton contributed 10 points, including eight in the first quarter, while post Caitlin Gillespie finished with seven points and three rebounds in the loss.

The Lady Knights, however, bounced back Tuesday, defeating Belton 42-36 in their district home opener.

En route to evening its district record, Harker Heights constructed a 20-17 halftime advantage before expanding it to 10 points, 35-25, with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Using an 11-2 run, the Lady Tigers pulled within a point at 37-36, but the Lady Knights did not allow another score as sophomore post Brielle Dorsey tallied the game’s final five points en route to a team-high 14 points. Bobbitt added eight points for Harker Heights, and teammate Kiara Young finished with seven points.

The Lady Knights (13-5, 1-1) will look to maintain the momentum tonight, when they travel to face No. 16 Waco Midway. The

Pantherettes (13-4, 0-2) are coming off a 60-53 loss at No. 8 Copperas Cove.

“We are in a super competitive district,” Nelson said, “and we can’t sleep on anyone.

“We have to be ready to play and prepared to play every single night.”

Following the contest, district play will halt until Jan. 2 due to the holiday break, but Harker Heights will not remain idle.

The Lady Knights open play at Bastrop’s G.M. Blackman Tournament on Dec. 28, facing Round Rock Stony Point in the first round with the winner advancing to play the Del Valle-Corpus Christi Carroll winner later in the day.

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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