BELTON — It’s not often a player arrives at an opposing team’s gym and feels excitement and confidence.
But Harker Heights junior Cody Halvorson felt it Friday night at Belton’s Tiger Gym.
The 6-foot guard hit his first five shots of the game, three from 3-point range, on his way to scoring a team-high 16 points in the Knights’ 60-47 victory over the Tigers.
Halvorson outscored Belton 10-6 in the first quarter.
“I played AAU ball here last summer, so I’m familiar with the rim,” Halvorson said. “I started shooting and I felt it so I kept letting it go.”
Heights head coach Celneque Bobbitt sees Halvorson’s scoring as a bonus for a team that’s stacked in the low-post.
“If he can keep shooting it like that and the (Delaney brothers) stay shooting, well it’s going to be hard for teams to double our big guys down low,” Bobbitt said. “There’s going to be less double teams on our guys if they have to concentrate on covering us behind the 3-point line.”
In all, four Knights scored at least eight points with senior Andre Hughes chipping in 11 while adding six rebounds.
For Belton, the scoring wasn’t as evenly distributed. Senior post Daniel Mills scored a game-high 22 points despite sitting the last few minutes in order for other Tigers to get playing time in their last home game of the season.
“Our kids practiced so hard all year,” Tigers coach Charlie Lewis said. “I wanted them to get to play in front of their families and get some experience against a really good team.”
Heights (21-9, 10-3 8-5A) also played its entire lineup in the win, while trying to balance playoff preparation — something they didn’t necessarily stay focused on during the game.
“We did some good things but we also have some things to work on,” Bobbitt said. “This late in the season, the men should know what they have to do without being told.”
While the Knights were relaxing, Belton was attacking. In the fourth quarter, the Tigers clawed their way from a 25-point deficit and closed the gap to 60-47. Belton (8-21, 2-11) outscored Heights 16-8 during the run but couldn’t overcome the 22-6 lead the Knights held after the first quarter.
“I felt like our guys came out a little bit nervous early but they played hard all night,” Lewis said. “I’m very proud of the way they showed up tonight.”
With a 48-25 lead at the 3-minute mark of the third quarter, junior Josh Delaney lobbed an alley-oop pass to Derrick Ray for a dunk to put the Knights up by 25. Nearly three minutes later, 6-foot-7 junior Roderick Taylor caught an inbounds pass and slammed the ball in with authority to give the Knights a 52-31 lead at the end of the third.