HARKER HEIGHTS — Celneque Bobbitt was feeling sluggish, and so was his team.
In the second half, the Harker Heights head coach’s energy was running low. Luckily, he was prepared.
“I was lethargic,” Bobbitt said of his mood during Tuesday’s game against Midway. “So, I ate some candy. That helped me, but I know if I’m feeling lethargic, and I can’t play or I’m not playing, then (I can imagine how those kids felt).”
While Bobbitt turned to sugar for a boost, guard Josh DeLaney’s timely deep shots provided the Class 5A No. 14 Knights with a surge.
Leading by two points with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter, the senior hit consecutive 3-pointers, including a buzzer-beater to end the period, sparking the Knights, who scored 18 of the game’s final 22 points, to a 56-40 victory against the Panthers.
After the game, DeLaney admitted he was hoping for an opportunity to turn around his team’s lackluster performance.
“If the shot was open, I was going to take it,” he said of the 3-pointers. “So, I took a chance to shoot the shots, and I thank God that I made the shots that I took.”
DeLaney finished with a game-high 19 points, contributing all four of the Knights’ 3-pointers, but no field goals proved more critical than his back-to-back buckets in the final moments of the third quarter.
Harker Heights (16-3, 3-1 District 8-5A) never led by more than two points in the first half as Midway continually exploited the Knights’ listlessness.
With C.J. Bobbitt, who scored nine of his 13 points in the first half, serving as the only consistent form of offense for Harker Heights, the Panthers constructed their biggest cushion of the game at 18-13 early in the second quarter. Thanks to a 12 of 16 shooting performance from the free-throw line, however, the Knights held a slim 32-31 entering halftime.
The slow start did not surprise Celneque Bobbitt, who could see it coming.
“Monday was the most atrocious basketball practice I’ve seen,” he said. “It was worse than when I coached my little parks and rec team. There was no unity. The only thing I can attribute it to, and I’m making no excuses, is coming back from Christmas break.”
The holiday hangover carried into the third quarter as Harker Heights missed eight of its first 10 shots, and with less than 60 seconds remaining in the period, junior guard Ish Hook’s free throw pulled Midway (13-8, 2-2) within two points, 38-36.
But DeLaney quickly claimed control for his team with his pair of momentum-changing 3-pointers.
Almost instantly, Harker Heights’ junior D’Angelo Streeter, who scored half of the Knights’ dozen fourth-quarter points, could feel his team’s collective attitude change.
“When Josh hit those shots, it just gave us more hope,” said Streeter, who finished with nine points and three rebounds. “We basically knew we were going to win after those shots.”