As the clock wound down to the end of regulation and both the Killeen Kangaroos and Bryan Vikings were preparing to play out their nondistrict basketball game in overtime, the only thought that crept through the mind of Brian Long and the other varsity returners was how different this year was going to be.
Last season, Bryan outlasted Killeen in triple overtime, but Killeen came out in the extra session ready to flip the script.
Long led the Roos with 21 points while Dadrien Moore added 13 to help Killeen stay perfect on the season with a 66-62 overtime win over Bryan on Friday at the Killeen Gym.
“We said in the huddle that we’re not coming out to lose,” Long said. “We’re coming out to fight, and that’s what we did.”
Senior post Melvin Anthony added 10 points hours after he signed a letter of intent to play for the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, an NCAA Division II school.
It took the Roos (3-0) 57 seconds to take control of the game and put it out of Bryan’s reach.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge because it prepares us for the playoffs,” Moore said. “At Killeen, we’re always facing No. 1-ranked teams so we’re looking for the challenge to push ourselves.”
Dant’e Ellis-Thomas hit a pair of free throws with 1:53 remaining that extended Killeen’s lead to 61-58.
The Roos followed that with baskets on an Anthony putback and a Moore floater that extended the lead to five points with 56.8 seconds remaining. Bryan scored its final two points on free throws.
“The games between Killeen and Bryan have always been like that for life and will always be that way,” Roos coach Reggie Huggins said about the close game.
Although the extra period ended well for Killeen, it didn’t start out that way. Bryan’s Arthur Vivera opened the scoring 40 seconds into overtime with an easy transition layup off a steal that made it 58-56 Vikings.
Killeen took the lead for good on a Long bucket in the paint that made it 59-58 Roos with 2:50 remaining.
The Vikings (2-3) came out in a 2-3 zone for most of the first half to neutralize Long and Anthony on the inside and limit Killeen’s ability to score from close.
Instead, the Roos tried to take advantage from long range as Damion Upshaw, Ellis-Thomas and Moore combined to sink four of the 18 shots from beyond the arc (22 percent) for Killeen in the first half.
“They were in zone, plus we could hit, we just didn’t hit tonight,” Huggins said. “That’s OK, we’re still going to be firing them. If we hit those, we wouldn’t be talking about being so stressed out in this game.”
The Roos began cycling the ball down low more frequently after the break as Long and Anthony combined for 15 points in the second half.