By Nick Talbot
The Cove Herald
John Osborn accidently let his players sit down at halftime.
And Copperas Cove made him pay for it.
Copperas Cove stretched an 11-point halftime lead to 18 in the first minute of the third quarter Tuesday and defeated Osborn's Belton Tigers 76-59 at Bulldawg Gymnasium.
"I think what really bit us was right there ... at the beginning of the third," said Osborn, Belton's basketball coach. "If we don't allow that initial surge then they can't do that stall stuff and it is a different basketball game."
"I have so many theories on the third quarter, we have almost gotten to the point where we don't let our kids sit down - and we did let them sit today. I think a big reason teams comes out playing differently in the second half is because you sit down for eight minutes ... so we have gotten into the habit of making them stand."
Belton (5-18, 1-5 12-5A) rallied and cut the Cove (14-9, 3-3) lead to six with 1:18 left in the third quarter.
That's when the usually fast-paced Bulldawgs slowed things down.
Cory Scott sat above the timeline for more than a minute and wound the clock down to 10 seconds before Cove made an offensive move.
"The way we were playing tonight was slow and not good at all," said Scott, who lead Cove with 24 points. "So, I knew as long we kept running they were going to keep scoring and we weren't going to get anything going offensively.
"So, I tried to hold the ball a little bit and make them come out and guard me."
Scott missed a 3-pointer as time wound down, but Rashaun Gibson got the putback as time expired and put Cove up 55-47 going into the fourth quarter.
"We just wanted to milk the clock. We just ran 34 Dawg constantly and let that clock run off," said Cove coach Billy White. "Fortunately, we were able to get an easy basket at the end."
Osborn said: "It is only one basket, but that was a basket we really needed."
Copperas Cove started the game on a tear, as Rashard Odomes, who scored 23 points for the Bulldawgs, hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Trivez Tucker slammed down an alley-oop. Cove took a 20-11 lead after the first quarter and pushed its lead to 30-17 after a Scott 3-pointner with 4½minutes left in the second quarter.
Justin Owens hit a 3-pointer three minutes later to cut the lead to 38-31.
Cove then went on the run that really sealed the game early, outscoring the Tigers 11-0 over the final minute of the second quarter and first minute of the third.
Even a 16-4 run by Belton in the next 3½ minutes - during which Owens and Brandon Hammond both hit 3s - couldn't save the Tigers.
Scott hit 6 of 8 from the free-throw line and the Dawgs went a combined 12-of-18 from the line in the fourth quarter to keep Belton at bay.
"Those were really big, because every game really comes down to free throws," Scott said. "Those were big because they were on a run and I knew I had to make my free throws ... to keep the game in our possession."
Harker Heights boys 71, Copperas Cove 48 - At Copperas Cove, the Knights continued their scorching success with an even hotter run against the host Bulldawgs, notching a fourth straight win in District 12-5A in the process.
Beginning with a three-point play by Cameron Delaney, Heights had three 3-pointers in the first quarter while senior post Trumell McCrimmon scored six of his 11 points, and the Knights led 22-5 after the opening frame.
Finishing with five of Heights' eight 3-pointers, senior C.J. Rodriguez led with 21 points, while Cove freshman Odomes scored 20 of his 21 points in the second half.