HARKER HEIGHTS — The screams erupted from the Copperas Cove locker room and vibrated off the Harker Heights halls like a tuning fork.
Lady Dawgs coach Teresa Durham had just told her team the news — Killeen upset No. 16 Temple. And after a 77-45 thrashing of the Lady Knights, Copperas Cove finished the regular season Tuesday tied for second place in District 8-5A.
“We started getting loooooud,” Cove senior Shawnte’ Goff said. “We were really excited. ... A lot of teams did not even expect to be here and tied for runner-up for district and that is the best feeling.”
The Lady Dawgs know what they want to do next, too — beat Temple again.
“It is going to be a real exciting game — if we decide to play the game,” Goff said. “We are already pumped.”
Sophomore Mikayla Blount added: “It made it a little easier to go under the radar and have people underestimate us. They didn’t know what we could do when we got out there.”
Durham hopes to play a play-in game against the Tem-Cats for sole possession of second place. But she had not yet broached the subject with Temple coach Tamarah Sanders.
The winner of that game would face Mansfield Timberview, which finished third behind Cedar Hill in District 7-5A.
It was just another thing that went right for the Lady Dawgs this season.
“For us when you look at the playoff road and you try to second guess yourself, both of those teams are quality, but the kids want to play Temple again and we might try to play Friday and go out as that second-place team,” Durham said.
On the flip side was Harker Heights. After going 35-2 last season, the Lady Knights struggled to live up to expectations this year, finished 11-19 overall and 3-11 in District 8-5A.
That was never more apparent than at the opening tip-off. Making her first start of the season, Brianna Freeman limped to the Heights side of the court, allowing the Lady Dawgs to play 5-on-4 at the offensive end.
It was ceremonial start for Freeman, a senior who missed the entire season with an ACL tear, but will continue her basketball career at New Mexico State.
With Freeman on the court, the Lady Knights jumped to a 6-2 lead, even with her limited mobility.
But, much like Freeman, Harker Heights could not keep it up. Cove junior Brittany Gamble hit a 3-pointer to tie the game midway through the first quarter.
Cove then held onto a narrow lead the rest of the first half, going on a 8-2 run over a two-minute span late in the second quarter.
In,the third quarter Blount and Goff turned it on.
Goff scored 10 of her game-high 26 points and Blount hit a 3-pointer that stretched the Lady Dawgs’ lead to 34-28 with 5:36 remaining. Stephanie Cochran then got consecutive And-ones and by the end of the quarter Cove led 53-38.
“We started off kind of slow and then coach said we had to step up and rebound,” Blount said. “So, we did. It was just effort, I think.”
It only got worse from there.
Heights didn’t score for the first 3½ minutes of the fourth quarter as Cove went on a 10-2 run. After a pair of baskets by JaQuan Jackson, who led Heights with 19 points, Cove went on another burst, outscoring the Lady Knights 14-2 to end the game.
“I was nervous coming into this game, but Heights and Quanny are dangerous, so when we came out a little flat and weren’t hitting shots or rebounding well (I was worried),” Durham said. “But, if I just relax and let them play, (then) they started playing better and rebounding. That was the key.”
Contact Nick Talbot at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569