COPPERAS COVE — Chance Smith had a point to prove and, in the third quarter, he did.
After a slow start left Copperas Cove with a slim, three-point lead over Belton at halftime, the Bulldawgs starter exploded following intermission, making all seven of his field-goal attempts in the third quarter, scoring 14 of his 16 points in the period. The outburst helped Copperas Cove create a double-digit advantage it never relinquished en route to a 66-41 victory.
Following the win, Smith said he felt a need to produce for his team and himself.
“The first two quarters did not go the way I wanted them to,” the junior said. “I was missing layups, so I felt I had to come out and prove to myself that I could do what I do in practice on the court.”
Smith missed both his first-half shots, but redeemed himself in the third quarter, according to Copperas Cove head coach Billy White Jr.
“He played huge for us in that quarter,” White said. “It was just a good span of minutes for him. He really allowed us to extend that lead, and we didn’t give it up from there.”
The Bulldawgs missed 11 of their first 13 shots and entered the second quarter trailing 11-9, but Copperas Cove junior Rashard Odomes delivered a 10-point second quarter, giving his team a 28-25 lead at halftime.
Then Smith turned the
momentum completely in the Bulldawgs’ favor.
Belton junior Coby Potvin connected on a game-tying 3-pointer, knotting the score at 32-32 with approximately six minutes remaining in the third quarter, but the Tigers were outscored 18-3 during the following four minutes, and Copperas Cove led 54-37 to start the fourth quarter.
“The third quarter dictates the whole game,” Bulldawgs senior Elijah Sobers said. “Starting off strong in the third quarter — getting steals and executing on the defensive end — just changed the whole setup of the game.”
Odomes finished with a game-high 24 points to go with eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block, while teammate Sobers added 12 points for the Bulldawgs, who began holding the ball with five minutes remaining and a 17-point lead, 58-41.
Braden Hammond paced Belton, scoring a team-high 12 points, and Jackson McGowan finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
The victory keeps Copperas Cove (13-13, 4-5 District 8-5A) in the hunt for a second consecutive playoff appearance after failing to reach the postseason for five years beginning in 2008, while last-place Belton (5-18, 1-8) remains two games behind seventh-place Temple.
While Tigers head coach Charlie Lewis declined to comment on the game following the loss, White was open about his team’s situation.
“We put ourselves in this position by dropping so many in the first half of district,” he said. “But we understand that we have to knuckle down and take it one game at a time, and we will work from there. Every time we get on the court, we have to give it our all and not look past anyone.”
Smith agrees every game remaining on the Bulldawgs’ schedule is crucial.
“We’re doing good right now, but we’ve got to step it up and win out these last five games,” he said.