COPPERAS COVE — It was a no-brainer.
Less than four minutes into the game, Copperas Cove’s leading scorer Cory Scott picked up his second personal foul, and Billy White Jr. knew what had to be done. The Bulldawgs head coach felt his only option was to accept the risk and leave Scott in the game.
It was the right decision.
Scott scored more than half of his team’s first-half points to keep the game close, and the Bulldawgs dominated the second half en route to an 80-58 victory against Harker Heights, keeping Copperas Cove’s playoff hopes alive in the process.
“At this point and time, we’ve got our backs to the wall and have to go all out,” White said. “We just let him know that he had two fouls and to be smart when he’s driving.”
Scott avoided being called for another foul for the duration of the game, finishing with a game-high 24 points, including 19 in the first half, to help the Bulldawgs keep pace with Killeen, which beat Temple, entering the final two games of the regular season.
“It used to be nerve-wracking, and I used to be real scared of (foul trouble), but it got to the point where I played multiple games with four fouls,” the senior said. “I tell myself to play smart and be smart.”
After making a pair of 3-pointers to tie the game 6-6, Scott picked up his second foul with 4:46 remaining in the first quarter. He did not score again in the quarter, and the Bulldawgs trailed 17-15 entering the second.
Then Scott found his rhythm, making five consecutive shots to start the second period, and Cove held a 36-34 halftime advantage following his 13-point outburst in the quarter. Scott recorded only one field goal in the second half, but it did not matter.
The Bulldawgs (17-12, 6-6 8-5A) scored seven unanswered points to begin the second half and constructed a 25-12 run spanning into the fourth quarter.
“We knew we had to come out and play in that third quarter,” White said. “In the first round, it was the same kind of first half, but in that third quarter, we gave (the Knights) 12 uncontested points. ... We had to go out and take care of business and don’t give them anything easy and make sure we applied pressure the entire time we were on the court.”
Cove did just that, outscoring Harker Heights 18-8 in the third quarter, while limiting the Knights (21-9, 9-3) to 3-of-11 shooting. With a 54-42 advantage heading into the fourth quarter, Rashaun Gibson and Rashard Odomes combined to score 14 of the Bulldawgs’ 26 points. As a team, Copperas Cove made 11 of 13 field goal attempts in the period and 28 of 56 shots.
“Everybody on our team is capable of doing good things, so we just moved the ball around,” said Gibson, who finished with 13 points.
Odomes led Copperas Cove with 21 points while Gibson added 13.
Heights (21-9, 9-3) was led by 15 points from sophomore post Celneque Bobbitt II. Cameron Delaney added 14, and Andre Hughes had 12.
The victory turned out to be critical for the Bulldawgs, who must win Friday over Killeen in order to have an opportunity at making the playoffs.
“This was a great win for us, but we have to go Friday and beat Killeen High at Killeen High,” White said. “We have to take care of business Friday.”