It is not going to be a blue Christmas for the Harker Heights Knights. And especially not for Knights head coach Celneque Bobbitt.
Free throws and rebounding, the two great fundamentals of basketball that Bobbitt said cost the Knights in their 50-44 home loss to rival Ellison on Tuesday night, were the two significant factors that led to the Knights’ 56-49 win at Shoemaker on Friday.
So, the Knights go into their Christmas break with a win, a district win. A win that was also the 250th of Bobbitt’s career.
“I play (4A-No. 1) Arlington Seguin on the first game of the Westlake tournament (Dec. 27-29), it’s very, very crucial that we won this ball game,” Bobbitt said. “This makes my 250th win, so it’s bittersweet for me to get one over here at Shoemaker against a cross-town rival. ... I’m happy, I’m excited for the kids to go on the Christmas break on a win.”
Bobbitt is 250-160 overall in his 13-year career as a head coach, all of which has been at Harker Heights.
Harker Heights (11-5, 1-1 8-5A) hit 14 of 18 free throws, outrebounded the Grey Wolves 37-24 and used a 17-2 run in the final 4:40 of the first half to pull away in the defensive struggle. The Knights made just 6-of-16 free throws in their loss to Ellison and were outrebounded 31-21 by the Eagles.
“That’s very instrumental. Nobody wants to go on the blue Christmas (down) 0-2 (in district). That’s what I was telling the guys, we were going to have a ba-ba-ba-ba-blue Christmas if we don’t win this one,” Bobbitt said.
Shoemaker (14-4, 1-1) used a 9-2 run in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter to cut the Knights’ lead to 43-49, but Celneque Bobbitt II scored an easy inbound layup for the Knights and Cameron Delaney followed with a fastbreak layup to put Heights comfortably up 47-39. The Grey Wolves cut the deficit back down to five three times after that, but the Knights answered at the other end each time.
“That don’t get us out of the run for the playoffs. It’s just one game. Mistakes, they outplayed us, can’t do nothing about it (now),” said Shoemaker junior Shane Johnson. “We’ll learn from this. This is a mistake game and everybody else, we’re coming hard for them.”
Up 29-18 at halftime, the Knights opened the second half with an 8-4 run, making their first four shots of the third quarter, to take their largest lead of the game, 37-22, with 5:28 left in the period.
Cameron Delaney scored 14 to lead the Knights and Reshaun Banks and Josh Delaney each added nine.
Johnson and Renard Thomas each scored 14 to lead the Grey Wolves. Thomas scored eight in the first quarter to help the Grey Wolves take an early 10-6 lead going into the second. Johnson scored nine in the fourth to lead Shoemaker’s come-from-behind bid.
“We fell into a deficit because we had a three- or four-minute stretch in the second quarter that we didn’t play hard. When those guys came in in the fourth quarter and played hard to get us back into the game, it was too much to make up,” Shoemaker coach Marc Minatrea said.
After a jumpshot by Patrick Mark gave the Grey Wolves a 16-12 lead with 4:54 left in the first half, Shoemaker made just one of its final 10 shots from the floor and missed all three free throws. The Grey Wolves were 12-of-26 from the line in the game. Harker Heights was 11-of-13 from the free-throw line in the first half.
“Coach always preaches free throws and rebounds wins games, so we had to work hard to get both of them,” said Cameron Delaney, who’s three-point play with 4:11 left in the first half gave the Knights their first lead, 18-16. “It was important to our team’s confidence to go into the break with a win so we can stay up.”