The rhythm that they are accustomed to never materialized.
They hung around, but the big come-from-behind finish didn’t occur.
Instead, the Temple Tem-Cats came up short in their regular-season finale in Killeen as the Lady Kangaroos wrestled away a 41-37 decision Tuesday night.
Killeen’s victory, coupled with Copperas Cove’s win over Harker Heights, created a three-way tie for second in District 8-5A between Temple (11-18, 8-6), Killeen (18-14, 8-6) and Heights (18-10, 8-6). All three have qualified for the playoffs, but a district coaches meeting today will determine how the tie is broken and the teams seeded going into the postseason.
“We just didn’t look like the Tem-Cat team,” said Temple head coach Tamarah Sanders. “We missed a lot of layups and had too many turnovers. We just turned it over too much.”
It was the victory that the Lady Roos needed to draw a home-and-home split against Temple.
“We needed this win. It was such a tough fight,” said Killeen head coach Latisha Williams. “It was a defensive battle in the second half.”
Though not as spectacular as the 20-1 fourth-quarter rally the Tem-Cats staged to defeat Cove on Friday, they continued to chip away at a Killeen lead that had reached nine points, 40-31, with four minutes left in the game.
Temple scored six unanswered points over the course of two minutes to make it a one-possession game, 40-37, with 1:41 to play. Jazzmen Ortiz drove for two and Tyesha Taylor converted a putback to highlight that run.
The Tem-Cats had possession of the ball twice while down three, but shots from Tori President and Deja Williams wouldn’t go. The Lady Roos struggled to put the game away, but did get one free throw from Ghiniva Phillips to fall with 4 seconds to provide the four-point margin of victory.
“We just let them get the best of us,” said Ortiz, who finished with 13 points. “We just couldn’t get it going offensively or defensively.”
Temple’s last lead came early in the second quarter. An Ortiz floater tied it 16-16, but Killeen’s Carmen Williams completed a drive just before the buzzer to give the Lady Roos a two-point halftime lead.
Taylor, who led all scorers with 14, tied the game with a bank shot on the Tem-Cats first possession of the half. The Tem-Cats could never overtake the Lady Roos, though Ortiz canned a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to cut Killeen’s lead to 30-27 going into the fourth.
Killeen used a balanced attack in the victory as nine players scored with Williams leading the way with nine.
Ellison won the district going away and will face South Grand Prairie in the first round next week. Meanwhile, the district’s trio of other playoff teams will meet to determine who gets District 7-5A’s top three in Duncanville, Mansfield Timberview and DeSoto, respectively.
Sanders said she believes the rules state that the teams will draw to determine the odd team out that gets an automatic second-place bid while the other two would be forced into a playoff for the other spots.
Temple could have avoided this scenario with a win, but it wasn’t to be.
“Our post passing wasn’t very good and our decision making wasn’t very good,” Sanders said. “We just didn’t look like the same team that won on Friday.”