BELTON — The halftime stats for Belton’s top scorers Braden Hammond and Daniel Mills looked decent: Hammond had 11 points and Mills had seven.
Unfortunately, no other Tiger had scored, and that made for a rough night as the Killeen Kangaroos handed the Tigers their first District 8-5 loss with a 64-52 victory at Belton Gym on Friday night.
“From the beginning, we were trying to make sure (Mills) didn’t get any looks and (Hammond) didn’t get any looks,” Killeen first-year coach Reggie Huggins said. “We wanted to make the other guys, who don’t normally have the role of shooter, try to do that. So we keyed on those two.”
Killeen’s strategy from the start was to try to take the game out of Hammond and Mills’ hands.
Though Hammond finished with 18 and Mills added 16, the strategy worked well, as Belton (7-13 overall, 2-1 8-5A) was outrebounded and turned the ball over numerous times in the first half, and trailed 37-18.
“We were trying to come and put the pressure on them early on,” Huggins said. “We got a lot of turnovers early and got a lot of baskets early. We got a lead and did what we needed to do to hang on.”
Not only was the strategy forcing the turnovers, it also was forcing Mills to lose his composure. He drew a technical foul less than halfway through the opening quarter, drawing the ire of his head coach.
“All teams are going to try to get inside our heads,” Lewis said. “We can’t let that happen, and that happened tonight. No player is bigger than the system and I’m going to let him know we are not going to put up with that. If anyone is going to get a technical it’s going to be me.”
The Tigers settled down the second half, controlled the game and briefly made things a bit interesting.
The change started when Hammond, who had nine points off 3-pointers in the opening half, got a bit more determined to take the game at the Kangaroos. He drew an early foul, then on back-back possessions drove the lane for tough shots. His scoring prowess on those possessions then helped open up a 3-pointer for Juwan Haggins from the right corner on Belton’s next possession.