One of the most overused phrases in sports is that of the underdog having nothing to lose when it plays a heavy favorite in the postseason at any level. For Killeen Kangaroos head coach Reggie Huggins, that doesn’t apply.
“For us, if we lose, we don’t get another opportunity to play with each other,” Huggins said. “We don’t have another chance to go on a road trip, we don’t have another chance to play one more game. In the true scheme of things, we have a lot to lose, which is not being able to play the next day.”
Killeen (21-12) takes on No. 2 DeSoto (26-3) tonight in the Region I-5A bi-district playoffs at 7 p.m. today at McLennan Community College’s Highlands Gym.
The Roos finished with an 8-6 record in District 8-5A, tied for third place, but are the fourth seed because of Friday’s 80-68 loss to Copperas Cove in the third-place tiebreaker game.
DeSoto finished at the top of District 7-5A with a 13-1 record and brings a 13-game winning streak into the playoffs.
“They’re huge on the inside, they’re fundamental and they don’t make any mistakes,” Huggins said about DeSoto. “They do everything well, do everything right and get the shot they want.”
Killeen enters the postseason looking for some momentum after finishing the regular season with three straight losses.
The Eagles will have a big body in the middle in 6-foot-7, 225-pound T.J. Maston, one of the top recruits in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Maston is currently committed to play at Baylor, but had offers from Kansas State, Miami (Fla.), Oregon, Texas Tech, Houston, Marquette and SMU.
The Roos will counter with their own 1-2 collegiate combo in the post with Texas-Pan-American signee Brian Long and Arkansas-Fort Smith signee Melvin Anthony.
“I know that Melvin will probably draw the first guarding responsibilities on that big guy, but it’s going to take a team effort,” Huggins said. “The only way we’re going to win the game is if everybody — the team, fans, everybody — we all go in there with one mind trying to get the job done.”
Killeen junior Demarius Cress could be a big factor in this game with his ability to shoot from the outside and stretch the DeSoto defense.
Defensively, DeSoto holds opponents to just 44.5 points per game.
“It’s not really the most pressure defense, but they make sure to stay between you and the basket and make you have to work for your scores,” Huggins said. “If you can score on them, you have a chance because they like to play in the 40s.”