WACO — After equaling the longest postseason run in school history, Harker Heights had its heart set on taking the next step Tuesday.
But a defensive-minded DeSoto team ended that dream Tuesday, as the No. 2 Eagles scored 11 unanswered points in the second quarter and never again trailed in a 55-43 win at University High School.
The No. 11 Knights, the District 8-5A champion and ranked from start to finish for the first time in school history, end the season with a record of 27-5.
“We’re going to leave out of here with our heads high,” Heights head coach Celneque Bobbitt said. “We went on a magical ride, and everybody but one team, they’re going to have to go through this emotion of losing a ball game.”
DeSoto, meanwhile, lives to see the next game where it will face either No. 24 Keller or Lubbock Coronado in a regional semifinal Friday.
Heights went toe to toe with the nationally-ranked Eagles (28-3) for a quarter as the teams ended the first knotted at 10 with neither team going up more than a possession.
Heights scored the first points of the second quarter and then went scoreless for more than five minutes until a pair of D’Angelo Streeter free throws with 1:47 to play in the first half.
In the meantime, DeSoto embarked on an 11-0 run that ended with the Eagles up 21-12 with 1:56 to play.
“I think it was just how hard we played,” said Eagle senior Terry Maston, who led DeSoto with 14 points. “We came together, found the right plays, hustle plays, and it came together for us.”
Like its last game against Flower Mound Marcus, in which Heights entered halftime down 13, the Knights were forced to play catch-up for the entire second half.
Heights entered the fourth quarter down 36-30 and pulled within four points on four different occasions but was never able to get any closer.
Not that the Knights, or the heavily pro-Heights crowd, made it easy.
“We had to keep them (at bay),” Maston said. “The crowd was getting into it. We had to tune that out and just hold them off.”
Heights pulled within four one last time on a layup by senior Josh DeLaney, who had 16 points to lead all scorers, with 1:50 to play.
But on the next possession, DeSoto junior Dominique Thomas, who didn’t enter until the fourth quarter, scored his only basket of the game on a layup while being fouled.
Thomas drilled the ensuing free throw to put DeSoto up 47-40. Less than a minute later, Maston put the Eagles up nine with a putback that all but ended any chance of a Heights rally.
After its heart-stopping overtime win against Marcus in the area round, and with many of its District 8-5A peers cheering on in the stands, it was a disappointing end to an impressive season by Heights.
But for Bobbitt, there was no room for negativity after a historic season, even if it had to come to an end.
“This sets the tone for years to come,” Bobbitt said, “so we’re going to be all right.”
Contact Jordan Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7562