“No mercy, no power but its own controls it. Panting and snorting like a mad battle steed that has lost its rider, the masterless ocean overruns the globe.” — Herman Melville, “Moby Dick”
Celneque Bobbitt will never be mistaken for a cowboy.
But it doesn’t mean he can’t channel his inner bronco-bustin’ horse whisperer when he’s describing his young and talented Harker Heights Knights basketball team.
“This has been the hardest team to actually try and break,” Bobbitt told me.
Every day, the longtime Heights coach seems to be at a loss to figure out a team that shows schizophrenic tendencies.
“You know how you’re trying to break in a stallion? Well our stallion bucks and then some of the times he’ll let you get up on him and you can walk him around in a circle, and then the next thing you know (whoosh) he done threw us off the saddle,” Bobbitt described in true Bobbitt fashion.
Filled with half a dozen future college basketball players, the one thing these Knights (17-7, 5-1 8-5A) aren’t lacking is skill. But they’ve been inconsistent.
They’re winning, five straight since a district-opening loss to first-place Ellison, but it’s never with the authority or conviction one might expect from a team so full of talent.
In Tuesday’s 57-39 victory over bottom-feeding Belton, Heights struggled to maintain any sort of consistency on the scoreboard. After languishing through a meager first quarter when they scored just nine points, the Knights tore off an 11-0 run over the first two minutes of the second quarter for a 23-12 lead — sparked by two 3-pointers from star junior guard Cameron Delaney.
But the sporadic scoring from the Delaney twins (Cameron and Josh) only touches on Heights’ schizophrenic nature, often spilling over to defense where players struggle to follow through on transition buckets or continually force the issue, with a relentless pressure that often fades for extended stretches.
And then there are times when the Knights players simply look bored out there —after missing a layup, 6-foot-5 senior post Andre Hughes will sometimes stand around figuring out why and not get back in the flow of the game.
“That’s what it is, we thought we got him broke, then some of the times you get bucked off. And that’s what we’re doing, we’re trying to break (in) that horse,” Bobbitt said.
Though his knowledge of breaking a wild horse might be relegated to movies and children’s novels like “Black Stallion,” Bobbitt makes a good point about playing with a raw group of wannabe stars.
But while the current crop of Knights seem more comfortable strutting their stuff in the wide open AAU game they play during the summer, Bobbitt is determined to get them to play together as a team.
Despite Harker Heights’ five-game win streak, the Knights still need to find cohesion and discipline, because it doesn’t get any easier down the stretch.
Today they wrap up the first half of the 8-5A slate at third-place Killeen (15-12, 4-2), who sit a game behind Heights in the standings, before starting the second half on the road against the Eagles (21-4, 6-0), who pulled out a 50-44 win over the Knights in the district opener. Then there is always dangerous Shoemaker (19-7, 4-2) waiting in the weeds next Friday.
Bobbitt knows this year’s team is building for a deep run next year. But why wait? The district title is within the Knights’ grasp this year. The Heights players just need to cowboy up and start playing like a trained stallion rather than some unbridled bronco.