HARKER HEIGHTS — With her team trailing 31-13 at halftime, an exasperated Latisha Williams had seen enough. With nothing encouraging to say, the Killeen head coach instead ripped to the core of each player and challenged their hearts.
Jasmine Goodwine, for one, soaked in every word of her coach’s impassioned halftime speech and decided she was done pouting — and instead was going to start pounding.
“She just really motivated us to come out that second half and play with pride,” Goodwine said. “It made me realize I’m playing for Killeen High School, I’m playing for my coach and I have to play with some heart.”
Taking advantage of her size advantage, the 6-foot-1 Rice-signee scored 24 points in the second half as Killeen rallied for a 58-51 win over rival Harker Heights on Friday.
Goodwine scored 16 points during a 26-7 run in the third quarter that helped snap the Lady Roos’ (15-11, 5-4 8-5A) three-game district losing streak.
After coughing up 16 hair-raising turnovers in the first half, it was Killeen’s ability to convert transition buckets off of eight Lady Knights turnovers in the third quarter that sparked the turnaround.
“We knew if it kept going that way, we weren’t going to win this game, and this was a huge game for us — we needed to win,” said Goodwine, who scored 26 points with five steals and seven rebounds.
Trailing 34-20 following a three-point play by Lady Knights junior Angela Delaney, Goodwine rebounded a miss by teammate Esha Atkins and fed Ghiniva Phillips for a three-point play. It was then that Goodwine took over, stealing the ball on the other end and taking it coast-to-coast for the right-handed score and converting the and-one opportunity to pull within 34-26 with 4:40 to play in the third.
“I think we were panicked by what was happening,” said Delaney, who led Heights (11-14, 3-6) with 25 points.
Goodwine then followed a pair of free throws by Delaney with back-to-back layups to spark an 11-2 run over the final 3:30 of the quarter, with LaDerrica Degrate feeding Goodwine off a steal for a transition layup with 36.2 seconds left to give Killeen its first lead, 39-38.
“When we made big plays like that, it excites everybody — your whole team feels it — and then their confident to step up and do the same thing you’re doing,” Goodwine said.
Goodwine scored 14 of the Lady Roos’ final 16 points in a 16-4 run over the final five minutes of the third quarter, hitting 6 of 7 shots and all four free throw opportunities.
“I think in the first half I was being afraid to miss, and in the second half I was like ‘I’ve just got to go for it,’” Goodwine said.
Not helping matters for the Lady Knights was the absence of star senior JaQuan Jackson, who sat out with back issues for the second straight game. In her place, Heights depended even more so on Delaney and sophomore Alexus Dukes, who was able to break free for 11 of her 13 points in the first half, but only managed 1 of 7 shooting in the second half. And without Jackson to steady the ship, the Lady Knights couldn’t slow the bleeding once it got started.
“I think we collapsed on ourselves,” Heights coach Shirretha Nelson said. “I feel like inexperience, not knowing what to do in those tight, in-game situations at this level is completely different, and it cost us today.”
In the fourth, Heights answered Killeen point for point until Goodwine was fouled on a hard layup and converted the three-point play for a 49-47 lead with 4:06 left.
Goodwine converted another transition layup a minute later and then Atkins and Degrate hit back-to-back layups in 10 seconds after Degrate stole the inbounds pass and scored for a 55-49 lead with 2:19 remaining before sealing the game at the free-throw line.
Contact Alex Byington at email@example.com or (254) 501-7566