By Alex Byington
Harker Heights Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - With a 30-point lead with three minutes to go, Eboniey Jeter and the rest of the Harker Heights starters were able to soak up their accomplishment from the bench.
For the first time ever, the Lady Knights were district champions.
"At the beginning of the year, we wrote down goals, and it's another check off the list - we're district champs now," said Heights' 6-foot junior post Brianna Freeman. "But its a stepping stone and we're just climbing up the ladder."
With a renewed emphasis on defense, No. 8-ranked Heights stifled A&M Consolidated during a 10-0 run in the first three minutes of the second quarter en route to a dominating 59-33 victory
Feb. 3 to clinch the District 12-5A crown at home.
Four days later, Harker Heights put a rubber stamp on its season and enters the postseason on a tear after Jeter scored 19 points to oust the Copperas Cove Lady Bulldawgs from playoff contention with a 57-33 win.
Freeman added 10 points while senior guard Shanice Davis had nine for Heights (33-1, 13-1 12-5A).
Cove (19-14, 6-8), which needed to upset the Lady Knights and have Ellison lose to Shoemaker in the season-finale to force a play-in game for the final playoff spot, was led by 12 points from Brittany Gamble.
"It's a good feeling, but I'm ready for playoffs," Heights senior point guard Shanice Davis said. "So, yeah, we won, but I'm not celebrating yet."
The Lady Knights celebrated Senior Night on Friday in convincing fashion as junior guard JaQuan Jackson led with 14 points - including a putback to cap the 10-0 run in the second - Jeter registered a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Davis added 10 points, four steals and four assists.
Despite a rough night from the field, only shooting 2-of-12, Freeman more than made up for it on the boards, pulling down 10 rebounds while helping the Lady Knights outscore Consolidated (24-9, 10-3) 16-3 on second-chance opportunities.
"That was some of our game plan. We came in knowing our inside game had to be there," Heights coach Shirretha Nelson said.
After missing their first six scoring opportunities to start the game, Heights found its groove on the defensive end as Jackson followed a pull-up jumper with a quick scoop-and-score before doing it again, intercepting a Lady Tigers pass like a cornerback on the gridiron. A putback by Jeter followed as the Lady Knights opened up a 6-1 advantage in matter of 30 seconds.
"Defense wins games, and we've been focusing on defense since the Temple game (Heights' lone loss on the season)," Davis said. "That's our weakness right now, but we have gotten better at it. And the more we focus on it, the better we're getting and it shows on the court."
Consolidated put up a fight though, closing out the final 3 minutes of the first quarter on a 9-2 run to pull it even at 12-all before Jeter capped the opening frame with a turnaround jumper with 14 seconds left.
From there, it was all Harker Heights as Jackson struck with a 3-pointer and Jeter added a pair of buckets to pull ahead 22-12 before Jackson's putback of a miss by Freeman stretched it to 24-12 with five minutes left before halftime.
After a jumper by A&M sophomore Blair Shaefer, Lady Knights reserve RaeVaughn Barnes nailed a 3-pointer and followed a layup by Brianna Golden with her own before a putback by Patience Gitau stretched it to 33-14 with 1:30 left in the first half.
In the second half, Heights steadily kept pulling away, outscoring Consolidated 11-7 in both the third and fourth quarters.