By Alex Byington
Harker Heights Herald
Through the first week of the season, neither Harker Heights nor Killeen has had much to be thankful for on the hardcourt.
The Runnin' Roos have been hurting for bodies with several players still in football, and the Knights are experiencing some early growing pains with a completely revamped roster.
But when Thomas Cherry sat down at the dinner table Thursday, he'd at least be able to eat his turkey in peace after his Knights rolled past the rival Roos 62-44 on Tuesday.
"That made it great, (beating) Killeen, right before Thanksgiving, couldn't get better," Cherry said.
The victory, the Knights' fourth straight over Killeen, was especially sweet for longtime head coach Celneque Bobbitt, who played at Killeen from 1988-90.
"It's always good to beat the Roos, win, lose or draw, during football season, whatever the case might be - it's still the Kangaroos," Bobbitt said. "I'm an ex-Roo and I always want to beat my school."
For the Heights (2-2) players, it was just a sigh of relief after back-to-back losses to Class 4A competition.
"It's a start, it's somewhere for us to start," Cherry said.
Leading the way with a game-high 19 points, including 6-of-9 from the free-throw line, Cherry was one of three Knights in double figures, followed by juniors Andre Hughes (12) and Blake Ervin (11), who helped pace Heights in the first and second halves, respectively.
Killeen (0-3) kept it competitive much of the first half, even taking an 18-16 lead 2 ½ minutes into the second quarter on back-to-back jumpers by Victor Glaze, who scored 13 of his team-high 15 in the first half.
"With what we have, we're doing all we can right now," Killeen coach Jason Fossett said. "We've just got to wait for some reinforcements to get here."
But Cherry converted one of his five steals into points and, following a miss on the back end of a one-and-one, an Andre Hughes putback spun it to 21-18 to put the Knights on top for good.
A floater from Jamison Hicks pulled the Roos to within 23-22 two minutes later, but that was the closest Killeen got. Cherry made good on a pair of free throws and then sophomore Josh Delaney picked the pocket of Glaze and laid it in for a 27-22 lead.
Following Cherry's free throws, the Knights outscored Killeen 19-5 over a five-minute stretch for a 42-27 advantage after a rebound and putback from Naashon Hughes at the 5:02 mark of the third quarter.
"For a half, I thought we gave effort and fought, but we only play about six guys - we're so shorthanded and undermanned right now," Fossett said. "I thought for a half we fought, but in the second half, we didn't have anything else left."
Leading 31-25 at the break, the Knights got a short jumper from Andre Hughes - his sixth straight made attempt - followed by a 3-pointer from senior C.J. Rodriguez for their first double-digit advantage.
"We won the first three minutes of the third quarter and I think that's what carried us over into the rest of the game," Bobbitt said.
Killeen got within nine points a few times, but couldn't put together any sort of run to rally as Heights managed to ice the victory at the free-throw line, making six of their final 10 free throws to outscore the Roos 31-19 in the second half.
Waco High 71, Belton 58 (Tuesday) - At Waco, junior forward Daniel Mills had three 3-pointers and a game-high 23 points for the Tigers but it wasn't enough to hold off five Lions scorers in double figures.
Trailing from the tip, Belton (1-2) trailed 35-26 at halftime and it just got worse in the second half as Waco rolled in the fourth quarter 25-19. Trey Rose added 12 ponts for the Tigers while junior Patrick Bean led five scorers in double figures with 18 points.
Belton 75, Lockhart 26 (Nov. 18) - At Lockhart, combining on 11 3-pointers, the junior duo of guard Thomas Barnes and forward Daniel Mills powered the visiting Tigers with 44 points for their first win of the season Friday.
The pair sparked Belton (1-1) to a 26-7 first-quarter effort and never let up as the Tigers led 41-11 at halftime and outscored host Lockhart by at least 11 in each of the first three quarters. Barnes led with 24 points and six 3-pointers while Mills added 20 points and five treys.
Jarrell 45, Salado 38 (Tuesday) - At Salado, Jada Kornegay scored 14 points for the Eagles, but the offense struggled more and more as the game went on.
Salado (0-2) only scored nine points in the third quarter and only six in the fourth after after being down 26-23 at the half.
Salado 91, Crawford 30 (Nov. 18) - At Salado, playing in just his second varsity game, junior Austin Adams scored 31 points and the Eagles overwhelmed the Pirates. Salado (2-0) outscored Crawford (0-1) 56-13 from the end of the first quarter to the start of the fourth to take a 75-19 lead.
Kolby Spears added 17 for Salado and Jada Kornegay finished with 13.