BELTON — About the only consolation Belton girls’ basketball coach Brenda Gomez has from Tuesday night’s loss to Harker Heights is that she can at least discuss a district game that got away rather than one that was never contested.
It was certainly that kind of feeling for the Lady Tigers, who saw a nine-point second-half lead evaporate and turn into a 41-37 victory for the Lady Knights in both teams’ District 8-5A opener at Tiger Gym.
“We just let one get away,” said Gomez, whose team dropped to 2-8 overall. “You had to feel like we had a chance to get a win at home.”
Instead, the Lady Knight duo of Angela Delaney and Alexus Dukes found their footing in the second half and turned the game in their direction. Belton didn’t have an answer.
“We found a little of ourselves in the second half,” said Height coach Shirretha Nelson, who arrived late for the varsity game because she was filling in as coach of the freshman team in Belton’s alternate gym. “When I came in, we were flat. We were struggling offensively and defensively.”
A two-minute span late in the third quarter turned the tide for the Lady Knights.
Belton carried a 16-12 lead into the second half and added five to that after its first two possessions. Blair Gilbert buried a 3-pointer from the key and Kinsey Williams hit a long two-pointer for a 21-12 advantage.
An Emily Hugo bucket still had the Lady Tigers ahead 23-17 before Heights’ Alexis Weisheit hit from the baseline at the 2:50 mark. That sparked a 10-0 run with a Sheanne Ellis-Clayton basket followed by back-to-back treys from Dukes and a 27-23 lead. Hugo ended the run with a 3-pointer from the corner and Belton trailed 27-26 going into the final eight minutes.
“I asked the girls `Where’s your fire,’’’ Nelson recounted. “We started to find some of that fire.”
At the 6:30 mark of the fourth, Williams tied the game 29-29 with a three-point play before Heights went on a 10-2 run over the next 4½ minutes.
Dukes, a junior, scored 14 of her game-high 16 in the second half.
Delaney, a Sam Houston State signee, finished with 12.
Williams pumped in 13 to lead the Lady Tigers and fellow senior Hugo added eight more.
The Lady Tigers, though not shooting especially efficiently, controlled most of the first half. Hugo and Williams hit treys out of the gate to spark a 10-4 first-quarter lead. They clung to a four-point lead at half.
“I felt like we played really hard physically,” Gomez said. “Physically, we had some great plays. Mentally we let down.”