Brian Long could do nothing more than laugh at the situation.
Going up for the first shot of the game against rival Ellison, Long’s shot was blocked out of bounds and onto the back wall behind the basket.
Afterward, Fred Jackson, the Eagles player who swatted the ball away, got in his face and had some choice words in Killeen’s oldest rivalry.
As it turns out, Long and the Roos had the last laugh. The University of Texas at Pan-American signee scored a game-high 19 points to lead Killeen to a 61-56 home win over Ellison.
“I laughed at it and went at him again,” Long said. “I kept going at him and he got in foul trouble. It felt good telling him, hey, we got the win, you can block my shot all you want.”
The win helps the Roos (20-9, 7-4 District 8-5A) stay in third place in the District 8-5A standings. The loss puts Ellison (14-13, 5-6) in fifth place, one game behind Copperas Cove (15-13, 5-6), for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Demarius Cress scored 14 points and hit a pair of 3-pointers for the Roos. Jackson and Shannon Bogues led the Eagles with 12 points apiece.
“We’ve got to go 3-0 the next three games,” Ellison head coach Alberto Jones Jr. said. “If we go 3-0 the next three games, we’ll see what happens.”
The Roos led by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter, but Ellison’s defensive standout got the Eagles back to within striking distance.
Sophomore point guard Isaiah Stevenson scored 11 points in the final 4:07 of the game, including hitting three 3-pointers. The
last Stevenson shot from behind the arc cut Killeen’s lead to 58-56 with 1:10 remaining.
“That dude is a dagger,” Killeen head coach Reggie Huggins said. “He’s like a dagger in my butt. He just hits big shots, I don’t know what it is. But you’ve got to give the kid credit, he makes shots.”
But Long made sure the Roos would keep their perfect home record intact by closing out the game on both ends of the court.
After a baseline jumper put Killeen ahead by four points with 40.3 seconds remaining, Long rebounded a missed Stevenson shot with 33 seconds remaining.
Ellison had another opportunity to cut into the lead, but Bogues missed a 3-pointer and Long outfought Jackson for the rebound with 17.2 seconds left.
Long made one of two free throws to make it 61-56 with 17.2 second remaining and Ellison missed a total of four shots after getting three offensive rebounds.
“(We have to) play hard and knock down shots,” Jones said.
The game not only helps Killeen’s playoff hopes, but it gives the Roos some retribution for a 54-52 loss to Ellison earlier this season. Stevenson won that game on a buzzer beater from 16 feet out.
“We’ve got respect for Ellison, but we hate Ellison,” Long said. “It’s been a rivalry since back in the day and we all felt that the last game that they beat us was a fluke. He got a lucky buzzer beater and we weren’t going to let it happen again.”
Killeen looks for another win Tuesday when it visits Temple while Ellison looks to rebound at home against Shoemaker.
Contact Albert Alvarado at email@example.com