By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen girls basketball coach Latisha Williams felt sick to her stomach.
The Lady Roos let one get away from them — a big one.
Playing without Mississippi State-signee KeTara Chapel, the No. 16 Temple Tem-Cats were ripe for an upset and the Lady Roos, coming off a sloppy 46-31 loss to No. 17 Ellison on Tuesday, sure could’ve used the momentum going into the second half of their District 8-5A slate.
“When I figured she wasn’t playing, I told the girls, ‘Temple is good without her. They are definitely better with her, but they are good without out her, so we have to play,’” Williams said. “As you saw, we still ended up losing the game. They’re a good team and they needed other people to step up and they stepped up and we just didn’t execute the way we needed to.”
Playing without Chapel, who missed the game due to illness, the Tem-Cats followed the lead of Alyssa Jones’ 19 points and Tyesha Taylor’s 17 to earn a 52-44 road win over Killeen on Friday for a perfect 7-0 start after the first half of district games.
“It’s killing me. I really don’t know how it’s affecting the team. I think we’ll find out on Tuesday how we bounce back (at Copperas Cove),” Williams said. “The first thing I said to them was, ‘We blew an opportunity.’ We had them at home, one of their leading scorers wasn’t playing and we blew it. And they stepped up. They said, ‘We’re undefeated’ and they’re going to continue to be undefeated.”
Jones and Taylor combined for 22 of Temple’s 30 second-half points, including 13 of the final 17 points of the third quarter to lead the Tem-Cats (19-3, 7-0) back from a four-point deficit.
Killeen freshman Tia Harson led the Lady Roos with 21 points and Jasmine Goodwine had 13.
Harston hit four 3-pointers in the game, including two back-to-back late in the second quarter to rally the Lady Roos (14-10, 4-3) back from a 21-15 deficit with 2:15 left in the first half. Harston’s second 3 gave the Lady Roos a 23-21 lead with 51 seconds to go and Killeen led 23-22 at the break.
“I had to recognize that I hadn’t showed up all season. It was the game that we really needed, but didn’t get,” Harston said. “I still had to show up. I did what I could.”
Johlicia Williams hit two free throws and Goodwine converted a 3-point play to give Killeen a 28-24 lead. Jones and Taylor took over just as the Lady Roos started to slide.
“I put a lot on her (Jones) shoulders, a lot on Ty (Taylor), a lot on Rykeya’s (Johnson) shoulder. Those three probably played the most minutes. And then I put a lot on the bench,” Temple head coach Tamarah Sanders’ said of playing without Chapel. “Alyssa has to understand that’s her game all the time. Sometimes she takes steps back because she’s a team player, but she knew tonight that she had to step up her game and kind of will us in a little bit, and she did.”
Taylor sandwiched two blocked shots around Jones’ transition layup to cut the Killeen lead to 28-26 and then tied the game on an offensive putback with 4:30 left in the third quarter.
Rykeya Johnson scored the go-ahead bucket with 3:44 left. Following a Killeen timout, Taylor and Jones finished the period outscoring Killeen 9-3 to take a 39-31 lead into the fourth.
A jump shot by Killeen sophomore Raven Ringo cut the lead to 41-37 with 3:24 left, but Taylor converted a 3-point play at the end other and Jones’ fast-break, transition layup gave Temple its largest lead, 46-37, with 2:33 remaining.