HARKER HEIGHTS — Celneque Bobbitt was surprised to hear that his Knights had held Killeen scoreless for most of the third quarter.
Even after the game, the Harker Heights head coach couldn’t get the taste of an ugly first half out of his mouth.
“It looked like nobody wanted to play; we were just lethargic as the day is long. I don’t know what it was,” Bobbitt said. “I was upset with my guys, I was upset at Killeen High, my alma mater, because I’m thinking we’re going to come in here and have a dogfight. ... I think the most energy I saw in the first half was when both teams ran out and did the little circle (chant before the game).”
Harker Heights held the Roos to just three points in the third quarter and held on for a 57-42 win over Killeen in the regular season finale for both teams Tuesday at Harker Heights.
The Roos’ eight-year playoff run ended with the loss and Copperas Cove’s 73-72 overtime win against Shoemaker on Tuesday night.
The Knights (23-9, 11-3 8-5A) outscored Killeen 15-0 in the third until Damariel Baker converted a three-point play with 19 seconds left in the quarter, and shot 8-of-8 at the free-throw line in the fourth to keep the Roos’ rally at bay.
“I thought it was a sad case of teams trying to play at each other,” Bobbitt said. “And, it’s an inter-town rivalry game, we didn’t even get in the double-bonus. At least foul hard and say, ‘Oh, it was a defensive battle.’ It was a lethargic defensive battle; a lethargic offensive battle.”
The Roos (18-17, 7-7), who came into the game tied with Copperas Cove in fourth place for the final playoff berth, trailed by 15 going into the final quarter but trimmed that to seven, 39-32, on Devyn Williams’ layup with 5:17 left.
Cameron Delaney stretched the Knights’ lead back to 11 with 4:45 left on a layup and two free throws and Killeen couldn’t trim the lead to any less than nine points the rest of the way.
“(The third quarter) pretty much decided the game,” said Killeen coach Reggie Huggins. “We never could pull back any closer than we had it before the half. They did a good job playing defense. They made us make sure we had to make jump shots and we didn’t make none of them. Our outside shooting isn’t there, yet, but there is coming a day where we’re going to be just fine.”
Delaney led the Knights with 17 points. Josh Delaney added 12 and Celneque Bobbitt II scored nine to go along with 11 rebounds. Bobbitt and Andre Hughes (six points) combined to score nine of the Knights’ 15 points in the third.
Melvin Anthony led Killeen with 15 points and DeVarri McCray and Brian Long each added eight. Long, the Roos’ leading scorer, was blanked until the junior drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 5:30 left in the fourth that cut the Knights’ lead to 39-30.
Anthony scored five of his points in the second quarter, including a jumper with 5:01 left in the first half that gave the Roos’ their last lead, 14-13, and a free throw that tied the game at 15 with 3:07 left.
Cameron Delaney hit two go-ahead free throws and Josh Delaney hit a three with 1:13 left in the half that gave the Knights a 20-17 lead at the intermission.
“I think our guys came out strong early, but that third quarter — I don’t know if it was halftime or what — just didn’t push out,” Huggins said. “My guys kind of go really high and have high highs and low lows ... and that’s the sign of a younger team.”
Killeen missed its first six shots of the second half and turned the ball over four times as the Knights pulled away for a 35-17 lead on Re’shaun Banks-Henry’s two technical free throws with 45 seconds left in the third.
Following a Knights’ turnover, Baker scored the Roos’ only points of the period on a layup and made the and-one free throw with 19 seconds left.