COPPERAS COVE — At times, it seemed too easy to Cory Scott.
Copperas Cove’s smothering full-court defensive pressure forced Belton to commit 22 first-half turnovers, allowing the Bulldawgs to build a 33-point lead by halftime en route to a 98-50 victory.
With a game-high 22 points, Scott led five double-digit scorers for Copperas Cove, and according to the senior, the team’s defensive intensity was the primary reason for the lopsided outcome.
“Our aggressiveness (really disrupted their game plan),” Scott said. “A press is easy to break when you are playing off, but we were getting into them and cutting off passes, and they were passing the ball right to us it seemed like.”
The Bulldawgs never trailed, jumping out to a 10-2 advantage that mushroomed to 21-10 before Cove scored 20 unanswered points, burying the Tigers in a 31-point hole, 41-10, late in the second quarter. Belton junior Justin McGowan ended the streak by making a pair of free throws with one minute remaining before halftime, but the Tigers did not score again in the quarter.
The Bulldawgs outscored Belton 26-4 in the second quarter, creating a 45-12 cushion entering the third quarter. For the half, the Tigers missed 17 of their 20 field goal attempts, before rebounding in the second half to post 38 points, but Cove still dominated.
Scott recorded 15 of his points in the second half, Montre’ Williams added all 11 of his points in the half, and Rashard Odomes tallied seven of his 17 points after halftime as Copperas Cove constructed a 50-point lead, 87-37, late in the fourth quarter on Scott’s steal and fast-break slam dunk.
The victory gives Copperas Cove (16-10 overall) renewed life in the District 8-5A playoff chase, making its record at 4-5, one game behind Killeen for the district’s final postseason berth with five games remaining.
“We knew we needed this game (to help) clinch a playoff spot,” Odomes said. “This was a big win.”
The Bulldawgs were motivated by their previous encounter with Belton, according to head coach Billy White Jr.
After having their first game relocated to Belton because of the repeated bomb threats directed at Copperas Cove campuses, the Bulldawgs built an early double-digit lead and watched it completely evaporate before losing in overtime.
The loss still haunts the Bulldawgs, who were focused on exacting revenge in the rematch.
“This one meant a lot to the kids,” White said. “This is one that has been marked on the calendar for a while, so they understood this was a game we had to go out and get. They’ve been amped up for this one and were ready to go.”
While every player on Copperas Cove’s roster scored at least three points, only four Belton players made a field goal during the first three quarters with Thomas Barnes and Braden Hammond leading the Tigers in scoring with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Belton (7-20, 2-7) connected on 16 of 54 shots in the game compared to the Bulldawgs, who made 37 of 73 attempts, including a 13-of-18 showing in the third quarter.
“I can rely on my teammates, and I can’t get mad at them if they take a shot because I know they are going to knock that shot down,” said Scott, who made four of six 3-pointers. “I want them to continue doing that because we win games like that.”