• July 25, 2014

Allan Mandell On Sports Heart-stopping action set for Tuesday

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Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2014 4:30 am

Harker Heights head basketball coach Celneque Bobbitt said, “I just hope Killeen High School has a defibrillator on the sidelines for me and everyone else on Tuesday night.”

Bobbitt’s Knights face the Kangeroos at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, the final night of the regular season.

If Heights wins, Bobbitt and his players are assured at least a share of the 2014 District 8-5A championship.

For Killeen, this contest, partly, is about revenge.

The Roos were defeated on Jan. 17 by the Knights, 68-42. That Jan. 17 loss still isn’t sitting well at Killeen High School.

“We’d like to get some payback for that loss,” said Killeen head coach Reggie Huggins. “We need to redeem ourselves. Plus, we set a goal for ourselves as a team: not to lose a single district game at home all season.”

And they haven’t lost one yet.

“We definitely want to keep it that way,” Huggins said.

If Killeen (8-5) should beat Heights (11-2), the Roos would clinch third place in the district. The reward for third place would be the avoidance of facing perennial-power DeSoto in first-round postseason action.

About 10 miles away from Killeen High School will be another Tuesday-night 7 p.m. contest that can also be labeled a heart-stopper: Copperas Cove at Shoemaker.

If the Bulldawgs win, they are in the playoffs. If the Bulldawgs lose, they most likely won’t be dancing. (A Waco Midway home-win over Temple coupled with a Cove loss means the Bulldawgs are eliminated from the postseason fiesta.)

“Our scenario is simple to figure out,” said Cove head coach Billy White Jr. “We know what we must do: We must win this game.”

Shoemaker feels the same.

If the Grey Wolves (11-2) defeat Cove, they will guarantee themselves at least a share of the district championship.

“Copperas Cove (7-6) has to have this basketball game and so do we,” said Shoemaker head coach Emund Prichett. “I’ve told our kids nobody can take a district title from you. Your name goes on that gold basketball. And 20 years from now, you not only can tell your kids how good you were, you can show them the proof: your name is on that gold basketball.”

Clearly Bobbitt, Huggins, Prichett and White each are passionate about the game of basketball. And all four men are excited for the games on Tuesday night.

“Basically,” said Bobbitt, “I’ll be telling my kids that Tuesday night is a game that, mostly, is like the rest of our games. The rims will be the same height, so will the length of the court. But they know we’re playing for a championship and they know the gym will be packed and the atmosphere will be different.

“This is the bright lights. That can bring out the best in kids or the worst. But the bottom line is this: a game like Tuesday night is why you play basketball. I absolutely love this. The fans who show up will see emotion, courage and intensity from Harker Heights and they’ll be seeing the same thing from the Killeen Kangeroos.”

Huggins concurred.

“We’ll be giving it everything we have Tuesday against Harker Heights,” Huggins said. “Celneque Bobbitt and I are good buddies and that just adds to the intensity, and fun, of Tuesday night. I love high school basketball and a night like Tuesday is one of the reasons I feel so privileged to coach this game.”

Prichett expects a packed gym at Shoemaker on Tuesday.

“It’s our senior night which always brings a big crowd,” he said. “Playing for the title will also add to the excitement. I told our kids that a night like Tuesday is why you play the game of basketball. Cove needs it and we need it which means both teams will be ready. I love this game so much and I love that we have this matchup on Tuesday.

“This is why you play sports. For us, we’re playing for a share of the district title. My feeling is if someone can’t get fired up for this game, that person shouldn’t be playing sports.”

Said White, “We know it will be a dogfight against Shoemaker. You can’t beat the excitement of playing in these type of games. I love these type of games. This is the best part of high school basketball. Last game of the regular season: one team playing for a title, the other playing for a playoff spot.

“For us, it will be a challenge, but it’s a challenge I want our kids to embrace — going into a hostile environment and having to play with excellence for 32 minutes. How can a challenge be any better than that?”

I’m not sure yet which gym this reporter will be at on Tuesday. Maybe Killeen’s, maybe Shoemaker’s. But whichever gym I end up in, I know I’ll need to have three things close by me: a scorebook, a tape recorder and … a defibrillator.

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