BELTON — Even though it was a game involving teams moving in different directions in the District 8-5A standings, the game itself didn’t look like it.
But the Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs simply had an answer for every run and every big shot that Belton threw at them and held on for a 41-35 victory Friday night to capture their fifth straight win.
Cove (16-10, 6-5), which salvaged a series road split with Belton, moves into a tie for fourth place in district with Temple.
Belton (8-16, 3-8) lost its fourth straight game to fall well out of playoff contention.
But not without a fight.
“We had a great chance,” said Belton head coach Brenda Gomez. “We had a great third quarter.”
Even after a dismal two-point second quarter, the Lady Tigers only trailed 14-11 at halftime.
The Lady Tigers erupted for 19 points in the third and captured the lead on two brief occasions only to be checkmated by Cove.
Belton evened the score, 16-16, with a traditional three-point play from Emily Hugo, but Cove went on a 9-2 spurt to go back ahead 25-18 at the 3:14 mark.
“This is one game I was nervous about all week because of the way they get after it,” said Cove head coach Eldridge McAdams. “All of their games it’s only been one, two, three and four points. We’d get up by three or six points and they’d cut it back.”
Aubrianna Garcia, who scored all of her team-high 12 points in the second half, paced a 9-0 run with seven of the points including a steal and layup to take a 27-25 lead with 1:30 left in the quarter.
Cove’s Brittany Gamble answered with a 3-pointer in transition.
Moments later, Belton’s Kaitlyn Jones pumped in her third trey of the game before Cove’s Mikayla Blount came right back with a triple of her own to give the Lady Dawgs a 31-30 lead going into the final eight minutes.
Garcia canned another 3-pointer early in the fourth to tie it 33-33, but the shots wouldn’t go for the Lady Tigers the rest of the way.
Hall scored the first five points of the frame for Cove, plus a close-range hoop from Blount made for a 38-33 advantage. Garcia cut it to three with a driving bucket, but the Lady Tigers didn’t get anything else down from then on. Gamble gave Cove a cushion with a trey for the six-point margin.
Gamble pumped in four treys to lead all scorers with 14 followed by Xylina Carlisle with 13.
“It’s a process for us every day,” said McAdams, whose team hosts district-leading Ellison on Tuesday. “We’re trying to get them to believe in what they can do.”
Meanwhile, Belton continues to battle and will look to put a crimp in Killeen’s playoff run on the road Tuesday.
“We’ve improved as a team,” Gomez said. “What they don’t understand is this could have been done this year, a month ago.”