HARKER HEIGHTS — When Josh DeLaney hit the shot that put the exclamation point on Harker Heights’ 68-42 win against Killeen on Friday he didn’t even see it hit the bottom of the net.
Even when the Harker Heights gym came unglued, DeLaney still wasn’t able to react.
He was on the ground writhing in pain from a cramp that hit him as he was crossing over right before his second straight 3-pointer.
DeLaney had given all he was able to give Friday. Fortunately for Heights, his game-high 23 points, including five 3-pointers, was plenty, as the Knights stayed atop the District 8-5A standings with the win.
“The way Josh is shooting the pill right now? Un-be-lievable,” Knight head coach Celneque Bobbitt said.
After a first half that featured 11 lead changes and four ties, Heights (19-3, 6-1) and Killeen (17-8, 4-3) entered halftime knotted at 29.
The Knights came alive behind DeLaney, who scored 14 points in the second half, and helped his team turn the game into a blowout.
“The plan for us was to clear the bench,” DeLaney said, “and that’s exactly what we did. We got all the seniors in, and that’s exactly what we had to do.”
The first half saw neither team able to establish a rhythm as both had to play without key contributors due to foul trouble.
C.J. Bobbitt lasted just 2:46 into the game before picking up his second foul and sitting for the rest of the half.
“We knew that was already going to happen,” Celneque Bobbitt said. “I told my coach when I got here, ‘When we play Killeen, my son’s going to be in foul trouble because he knows I’m emotional (playing my alma mater).’”
While Heights played most of the first half without C.J. Bobbitt, Killeen played most of it without starters Melvin Anthony and Brian Long, as Anthony picked up his second foul in the first and Long was whistled for his third in the second. Both later fouled out in a frustrating second half.
The Kangaroos ended the first quarter, however, leading by one and went into the half tied and looking forward to the final two quarters.
“We can play with more than just those two,” Roo head coach Reggie Huggins said. “We’re a team, we play together, and we get it done. And they got it done that first half.
“It’s just that second half, we came out — I don’t know if we got manned (up) or what — we just didn’t get that push like we got in the first half.”
Heights began pulling away late in the third when DeLaney hit two straight 3-pointers to put the Knights up 40-33 at the 3:23 mark.
He later hit twin brother Cameron for a 3-pointer to put Heights up 45-35 at the 1:22 mark, just one possession after Cameron drew an offensive foul against Long for his fourth personal of the game. Cameron added 14 points and five rebounds on the night.
But Josh DeLaney was just heating up.
After Heights went up 14 on a lay-up by Pat Everette off a nice feed from DeLaney, he then hit two free throws to trigger an 8-2 run that ended with the second straight layup by D’Angelo Streeter for a 19-point lead with 3:59 to play.
DeLaney then capped his performance with consecutive deep 3-pointers for a 66-40 lead with 2:31 to play, the second of which left him needing help to leave the court as cramps finally ended his hot night.
With the big win, Heights now finishes the first half of the district season in first place with a one-game lead on second-place Shoemaker.
But with Ellison, the lone 8-5A team to beat the Knights this season, looming Tuesday, the Knights are far from content at this point.
“We’re just working hard every day, executing what our coach wants us to do,” Cameron DeLaney said. “And there’s still work to be done because it’s another round of playing all the schools again.”