COPPERAS COVE — Killeen struggled to get to the free-throw line during the first three quarters, and in the fourth quarter, the Kangaroos struggled to make their free throws.
But they made critical shots from the charity stripe when they had to, holding on to beat Copperas Cove 60-57.
After making one free throw during the game’s first 24 minutes, Killeen scored 10 of its 16 fourth-quarter points at the free-throw line, including its final four points, giving the Kangaroos a slim victory in an important district matchup.
“I preached it to my kids, and I know (Copperas Cove head coach Billy White Jr.) preached it to his kids, we needed to win this game,” Killeen head coach Reggie Huggins said. “Fortunately, we got enough free throws in the end. We missed a few, actually a lot, but we found a way to get it done.”
Despite missing seven of their 10 field-goal
attempts in the fourth and watching a 13-point third-quarter lead dwindle down to a single point, the Kangaroos (15-12, 4-2 District 8-5A) continually thwarted any potential comeback Copperas Cove created.
The Bulldawgs (14-9, 2-4) trailed 17-16 early in the second quarter before Killeen used a 13-1 run to take a 30-17 en route to a 31-20 halftime advantage. Copperas Cove’ sophomore Rashard Odomes responded by posting nine of his game-high 20 points in the third quarter and his jumper pulled the Bulldawgs within three points, 33-30.
But the Kangaroos scored nine of the game’s next 11 points to increase their lead and took a 44-35 advantage into the fourth quarter. Again, the Bulldawgs put together a run to get within three points, 49-46, but moments later, Killeen held a 55-49 lead.
“We just didn’t play hard or give a lot of intensity in the first half,” White said. “So, in the second half, we’ve got to play almost perfect to just get back in the game.”
Although the Bulldawgs were far from perfect late, Rashaun Gibson’s 3-pointer trimmed Killeen’s lead to 58-57 with 21 second remaining in the game, but Melvin Anthony and Devyn Williams each made one of two free-throw attempts and Copperas Cove could not get off a potential game-tying 3-pointer before the final buzzer.
While the Kangaroos produced plenty of offensive balance with five players scoring at least six points, Copperas Cove was sporadic at best.
Bulldawgs leading scorer Cory Scott was held without a point through the first three quarter before catching fire early in the fourth quarter to finish with eight points. Odomes scored all but three of his points in the second half and outside of the two players, only Deion Robinson made more than two field goals.
Brian Long scored a team-high 16 points for Killeen, and Anthony added a double-double with 13 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
“This was a huge, huge road win,” Huggins said. “Now, we’ve put ourselves back in the race.”