Brian Long and the Killeen Kangaroos learned last year not to leave anything to chance.
So with the Roos holding a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter, Long wasn’t content to just let a loose ball go out of bounds. The 6-foot-3 senior post went diving for the ball into the Killeen bench with such speed that teammate Dadrien Moore jumped out of his seat to avoid getting run over by the University of Texas at Pan American commit.
“I’m dedicating myself to the game and I’m working hard,” Long said. “I want to go to the playoffs this year.”
Killeen (1-0) used that hustle from 13 different players to open the season with an 87-62 win over Waco University (0-1) on Tuesday.
Junior Demarius Cress scored a team-high 16 points while Mikell Clark added 15 and Long scored 14.
Last year, the Roos didn’t make the playoffs after losing their final game of the season to Harker Heights while Copperas Cove beat Shoemaker.
For Clark, nine months of frustration came out during 32 minutes of game time.
“We didn’t make the playoffs last year so we’re pushing ourselves to do better this year,” Clark said. “Last year, we had a problem with them our first game, (but) this year we’re coming out on fire and letting them know we’re not playing around this year.”
Killeen used its full court press and athleticism to run up and down the floor, take control early and never looked back.
Long scored his first points of the season off a baseline jumper that sparked a 10-0 run in the first 1:44 of the game.
Clark hit a pair of free throws that put the Roos ahead 22-5 less than five minutes into the game.
“We’re going to make people have to play at our pace,” Killeen coach Reggie Huggins said. “We’re not going to worry about what they’re going to do. We’re going to dictate all the tempo and we’re going to be the ones dictating the action.”
After the Trojans switched to a 2-3 zone defense, Baker and Cress combined to score 12 consecutive Killeen points, all on 3-pointers, in a span of 2:37 that made the score 36-12 Roos early in the second quarter. The duo combined to hit six 3-pointers on the night.
Killeen used hustle plays to build a 54-28 halftime lead.
The Roos outrebounded the Trojans 16-9, scored 20 points in the paint to Waco University’s six and got 12 points off 11 Trojan turnovers.
“In the locker room, that was our motto,” Clark said. “We told each other we were going to come out and jump on them and that’s what we did. We had to get up on them from the start.”
Baker was the fourth Killeen player to score in double figures chipping in 10. Ten of the 13 Roos that got in the game had a field goal.
The Roos will go for their second home win of the season Friday when they host Pflugerville Connally.
Contact Albert Alvarado at email@example.com