On Tuesday night in Waco, the Killeen Kangaroos nearly pulled off a shock-the-state upset. Facing the No. 16 team in the nation, and No. 3 team in the state, the Roos trailed perennial-power DeSoto 34-32 with 1:08 left to play. Ultimately, the Eagles prevailed 42-33. Postgame, Killeen second-year head coach Reggie Huggins spoke with the Herald’s Allan Mandell.
Coach, it looked like DeSoto’s head coach aged about 20 years once the final buzzer went off. He was very gracious to you about how much your kids hustled.
Yes, he was. DeSoto played hard and so did our kids. (Laughing) Heck, I thought both of us lost a few years off our life tonight with the way this game went. But that’s what playoff basketball is about. Unfortunately for us the chips didn’t quite fall our way. But my guys did everything I asked of them. And, for a coach, you can’t ask anything more than that.
You called on (seniors) Melvin Anthony and Brian Long to double-team Baylor-bound Terry Maston, and they shut him down. That duo really played some fantastic defense.
Yes, they did. Both of them knew the game-plan. They’re strong players, too.
Our guys came out here tonight and felt good during warm-ups. We’re a good team. We just faced a good team. And we’ll have a good team that is coming back next year. We start next Monday working on being a better team next season. The Roos are back in the playoffs. The Roos are back, and we’ll try and keep this thing going.
Another senior who stepped up big was Jaylin Mayfield. You inserted him into this contest, gave him some tough defensive assignments and he really seemed to respond.
Yes, he did respond. He comes through all the time. I know last game he probably didn’t feel like he got to play as much as he wanted. I knew in this game, before it started, that with his height (6-foot-4), length, strength and hustle that he’d make a big difference for us.
Mayfield did the job for us tonight, he did what we asked him to do. And now it’s my duty, as a coach, to try and make sure my seniors like Mayfield can find a school to play for.
That’s our job as coaches: find a good place where our kids can get a good education and be able to play basketball at the next level. That’s something I’ll be working on these next few weeks.
Coach, your guys didn’t look intimidated at all tonight. They came in here with the attitude that DeSoto was just another opponent.
I think that’s because we had watched a lot of video on them. Then, tonight, our guys looked at them in warm-ups and thought to themselves, “These guys aren’t so big, we can play with them.”
There were times in the first half, when we had them in a drought, that if we could have just scored a tad more, this outcome would have been different. But it is what it is. My guys played hard.
What can you say about Brian Long? He gave you a great final game and certainly had a great career.
Oh, fantastic career. He scored over 1,000 points. He’s been to the playoffs three of the past four years.
All my seniors are special, too: Damariel Baker, Mayfield. All of them. They each gave it everything they had. They did everything I asked them to do. You can’t ask anything more as a coach.
And, of course, there’s Melvin Anthony. What an effort he gave you tonight in his final game.
Absolutely. He played great. We needed him to play strong tonight and that’s what he did — play strong. He’ll need to take that to Arkansas-Fort Smith where he’ll be playing college ball. We expect good things of him. But we know he’ll do those good things. I’ll have to get in my car and drive to Arkansas to watch him. And just as Melvin will have to play strong for Arkansas-Fort Smith, Brian Long will have to play strong for Texas-Pan American. I have a lot of confidence in both of them moving forward. And then there’s the other guys that I will try and find a school for.
Well, it sure had to be fulfilling for you to watch the two leaders of your club, Anthony and Long, come through so strongly tonight.
Yes. They came through, they came through big. I wish we could have had a win to help keep their seasons going. But, without a doubt, they gave everything they had on the floor, and I’m very proud of them.
Contact Allan Mandell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7566 and read his blog at KDHPressbox.com