KILLEEN — The rhythm 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 as the Killeen 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 place 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 are seeded for the postseason.
“We just didn’t look like the Tem-Cat team,” Temple coach Tamarah Sanders said. “We missed a lot of layups and had too many turnovers. We just turned it over too much.”
It was the victory the Lady Roos needed to draw a home-and-home split against Temple.
“We needed this win. It was such a tough fight,” Killeen coach Latisha Williams said. “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 chipped away at Killeen’s 40-31 lead with 4 minutes left in the game.
Temple scored six straight points over the course of 2 minutes to make it a one possession game at 40-37 with 1:41 to play. Jazzmen Ortiz drove for two buckets and Tyesha Taylor converted a putback to comprise the run.
The Tem-Cats had possession of the ball twice, but shots from Tori President and Deja Williams didn’t fall. The Lady Roos struggled to put the game away but got a free throw from Ghiniva Phillips with 4 seconds left 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 Temple’s first possession of the second half. The Tem-Cats never overtook the Lady Roos, although 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 as nine players scored, with Williams leading the way with nine.
Killeen Ellison won the district going away and will face South Grand Prairie in the first round next week. The district’s trio of other playoff teams will meet to determine who gets District 7-5A’s top three of No. 1 Duncanville, Mansfield Timberview and DeSoto, respectively. Sanders said she believes the rules state that the teams will draw to determine the No. 2 seed, with the losers of the draw squaring off to determine the other slots.
Temple could have avoided that scenario with a win.
“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.”