By Alex Byington and Kevin Posival
The Cove Herald
The ceremonial cutting down of the net had to wait a few days, but Harker Heights did what it needed to do Tuesday. And the Knights are district champs again.
Following Saturday's home loss by A&M Consolidated, the 10th-ranked Knights scored 11 of the final 12 points in the second quarter Tuesday and pulled away for a 64-49 victory over host Copperas Cove to lock up the District 12-5A championship.
It's Harker Heights' first district title since 2006.
Led with a pair of double-double performances from 6-foot-5 Royce O'Neale and 6-1 Brandon Bullock, Heights (26-4, 11-1) dominated the boards, outrebounding Cove 43-23.
"If you control the boards, you're going to control the game, and that's just what they did tonight," Cove coach Billy White said.
O'Neale led the way with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Bullock finished with 15 points and 11 boards.
Hitting from outside early the Bulldawgs (12-17, 2-10) connected on 4 of 9 from behind the arc and went score-for-score with Heights in the first quarter, entering the second tied at 18-18 following a buzzer-beating 3 from Cove guard Deion Robinson.
A Juwan Rice jumper put Cove up 27-26 with 2:23 left in the half, but the Knights turned to O'Neale. He answered with a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession and scored seven straight points in a 40-second span.
Heights kept the pressure on coming out of the break. O'Neale scored on back-to-back possessions including a one-handed fastbreak dunk with 6:38 to play and added a 3-pointer and another bucket two minutes later to stretch Heights' lead to 50-30 midway through the third.
Shoemaker 92, Copperas 50 (Saturday) - At Shoemaker, Malcolm McDonald slept in Saturday morning, arrived at the Shoemaker gym and had the game of his life. Thirty-three points, 26 rebounds and a 33-point Shoemaker rout of Copperas Cove later, McDonald understated his affinity for Saturday games.
"It was better for me because I had more sleep. I like playing on Saturdays," McDonald said. "I was just feeling it today."
The 6-foot-6 McDonald had a double-double by halftime - 12 points, 15 rebounds. He scored 11 in the third, 10 in the fourth and grabbed 11 rebounds in the final two quarters. In the first quarter, the Bulldawgs managed to keep pace by hitting four 3-pointers, including back-to-back 3s from Johnathan Bridges to open.
But Cove's touch couldn't keep up with McDonald's physicality and height. After hitting its first three 3-point attempts, Cove hit just 4 of 26 in the final 29 minutes.
"We were just settling for 3s. ... We had days off this week due to the weather so we didn't get as many shots up as we normally get. When we're settling for 3s and they're not falling, it puts you in a hole pretty quick," Cove coach Billy White said.
The Grey Wolves led 27-21 after the first quarter and 40-32 at halftime before pulling away in the third.
Cove's Robert King scored five in a 30-second span to cut an 18-point Shoemaker lead to 13 with 2:52 left in the third quarter, but the Buldawgs didn't hit another field goal until a Deion Robinson 3 a minute into the fourth.
Cory Scott led Cove with 14 points, while Robinson and Juwan Rice each finished with 10.