WACO — Getting off to a good start in the playoffs is one thing, but sustaining it proved to be something different for the Killeen Lady Kangaroos.
Despite 12 points from Shianne Johnson, the DeSoto Lady Eagles found their form and beat Killeen 53-38 in the Region I-5A bi-district playoffs at the Highlands Gym on Wednesday.
“You can never slack in a playoff game,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of stuff we could have done to win.”
The loss ends Killeen’s season. The Lady Roos have not won a playoff game since 2010.
Sophomore guard Tia Harston added 10 points for the Lady Roos who finish the season with an 18-15 record.
The Lady Roos (18-15) were the second seed out of District 8-5A via a tiebreaker with Harker Heights and Temple.
They matched up with the third place team out of District 7-5A and the Lady Roos were jumping early.
Ceida Williams got the first points of the evening with a basket in the paint as Killeen jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the first six minutes of play as Desoto (19-10) struggled against Killeen’s defense and missed its first 12 shots of the game.
“We were more relaxed, we were more focused, we were more calm so we were able to handle the ball more,” senior guard Ghiniva Phillips said. “We were able to make more shots, but after that, we lost that focus.”
As the first quarter came to a close, the Lady Eagles found a way to be more patient and get into the holes in the Killeen defense and score.
After Najala Howell made a pair of free throws, Desoto went on an 11-2 run and took the lead on a Chania Wright 3-pointer with 6:15 before halftime.
“When they started scoring, it took us awhile to get back in it,” Johnson said.
Johnson helped the Lady Roos respond with a pair of free throws to regain the lead, but Desoto scored the final five points of the first half.
“I think the last few games we’ve had, we’ve been playing good defense and I think we had lapses this time and they were able to score off those lapses,” Killeen head coach Latisha Williams said. “They got a lot of layups off those lapses.”
Killeen went into halftime trailing by a single point, but saw the deficit gradually amid turnovers and fouls that put Desoto on the free-throw line.
The Lady Eagles turned six Lady Roo turnovers into six points as Killeen finished with 11 turnovers in the second half. Desoto also hit 12 of 18 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“In the second half we weren’t necessarily making them make baskets, we were just putting them on the free throw line,” Latisha Williams said. “They made their free throws.”
Johnson’s second 3-pointer of the game cut Desoto’s lead to 35-29 with 7:15 remaining, but it was the closest Killeen got before a Brianna Wise drive to the basket sparked a 7-2 run.
“It’s just really frustrating, especially being a senior, it’s my last year,” Phillips said. “I was really striving to win this game with my team because we worked so hard.”
Senior Guard Chalon Anderson gave Killeen its final points of the season with a pair of free throws that came with 9.9 seconds remaining.
“(The seniors) were definitely the glue of this team,” Latisha Williams said. “They always tried to stress to the younger ones how important it is to work hard every day.”