By Angel Verdejo
The Cove Herald
CEDAR PARK - Cedric Carlisle was chomping at the bit to get back on the floor.
He couldn't stand sitting on the bench watching his Copperas Cove teammates.
"It hurts because I can't help my team," said Carlisle, who helped extend Cove's lead early in the third quarter before picking up a third foul and going to the bench.
It hurt even more when the lead vanished.
Carlisle got his second chance and didn't disappoint. He finished with 12 points, including six straight on three consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter, giving Cove a lead it wouldn't relinquish in an 88-72 win over Pflugerville Connally at the Cedar Park Center. The game was part of a doubleheader preceding the NBA D-League's Austin Toros hosting the Tulsa 66ers.
The junior didn't lead Cove in scoring - freshman Rashard Odomes followed up on Carlisle's momentum, scoring 13 of his game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter. Carlisle also didn't pull down the most rebounds (Odomes had 11).
But his all-around play is what his coaches know Carlisle is capable of. He grabbed six rebounds - four on the offensive end - blocked three shots and had a pair of steals.
"He had a huge impact - huge impact," Cove head coach Billy White said. "That's just a prime example of what we want him to do. Another good thing is we have that on film now to show him what we need him to do.
"Those are the things he's capable of doing and those are the things we need him to do."
Carlisle, like nearly everyone else on the floor, just needed some time to get used to their surroundings.
That included a small crowd that was swallowed inside the 6,800-seat arena. The teams also used the Toros' floor, which meant a deeper NBA 3-point line.
"I think my first shot was an airball," said Cory Scott, who finished with 13 points. "It felt perfect - I take that shot regularly at school and it's nothing but net. Then even out there trying to get the team together, it seemed like my voice was just echoing."
Added White: "It's a great experience for the kids, but it takes a lot to get going because normally you have a decent crowd and it's real compact. That said, I'm glad that we did it because it gave us another obstacle to overcome."
Cove (5-2) immediately went to Carlisle of the break. He made a layup to start the third quarter, answered a Deshawn Riddick layup with a dunk on the other end and completed the run with a putback to stretch Cove's lead to 46-41 a minute into the period.
An Odomes layup made it 48-41, but the next time down the floor, Carlisle picked up his third foul going for an offensive rebound. He went to the bench and the Cougars slowly chipped away, cutting it to four before taking a timeout and later to 55-53 before calling another. They eventually took a lead and were up 63-61 going into the fourth quarter.
Odomes cut it to one with a free throw with Carlisle scoring on the next three Dawg possessions - the last two on putbacks under the basket.
"Coach was telling us to be aggressive because they were calling the fouls, so I was just going up aggressively," Carlisle said.
It wasn't just Carlisle, as Cove - which made 11 3-pointers three days ago against Waco Midway - attacked the basket. All of the Dawgs' 27 fourth-quarter points came on layups, putbacks or foul shots.
No. 16 Austin LBJ 87, Dawgs 67 (Monday) - At Austin, Timothy Dixon scored 20 points and Jahlil Tutein added 19 as 4A's 16th-ranked Austin LBJ Jaguars rolled over Cove. The Dawgs (5-3) led 16-15 after one quarter, but LBJ began pulling away after that.
Cory Scott made three 3-pointers and led the Bulldawgs with 19 points. Deion Robinson added 17, and freshman Rashard Odomes finished with 14.
Cedar Park Vista Ridge 46, Lady Dawgs 18 (Tuesday) - At Cedar Park, Cove worked with a new lineup and had their struggles with it on the road. Erisha Talley and Brittany Gamble led the way with five points each for Cove (10-7). Nneoma Duru outscored Cove and had a game-high 19 points for Vista Ridge, which outscored the Lady Dawgs 31-8 over the second and third quarters.
No. 13 Lorena girls 42, Copperas Cove 35 (Saturday) - At Lorena, the Lady Bulldawgs couldn't overcome a slow start, scoring just nine first-half points as 3A's 13th-ranked Lady Leopards claimed the championship in their own 7th Annual Vicki Mitchell-Lauren Timmons Memorial Tournament. Shawnte Goff led Cove with eight points and was named to the all-tournament team along with teammate Letia Howard.