By Clay Whittington
Killeen Daily Herald
Eldridge McAdams knows there is a problem. He just cannot identify it.
Through the first four games of District 8-5A play, Copperas Cove has seen three potential victories slip away in the second half.
First, the Lady Bulldawgs allowed Killeen to recover from a 4-of-26 first-half shooting performance en route to winning the district opener. Two games later, a last-second miscue led to Midway recording a game-winning layup before time expired. Then, at home against Belton on Tuesday, a horrible shooting display after halftime proved to be Copperas Cove’s demise.
All in all, the Lady Bulldawgs’ second-half shortcomings dropped them into an early hole as they look to make consecutive playoff appearances for the first time since 2010 and 2011.
For McAdams, the recurring issues are baffling.
“I don’t know what the problem is,” Copperas Cove’s first-year head coach said, “but I’ve got to find it. ... I don’t know if it is mental, I don’t know what it is, I just don’t know.”
Thanks in part to a balanced offensive showing, the Lady Bulldawgs went back and forth with Belton throughout the first half as six players accounted for points, with seniors Bryaunea Hall and Brittany Gamble accounting for eight and seven points, respectively. Hall was responsible for Copperas Cove’s final six points of the second quarter, giving the Lady Bulldawgs a 27-22 advantage before Aubrianna Garcia swished a desperation heave from halfcourt before the buzzer.
After making eight of 14 shots in the second quarter, the Lady Bulldawgs went cold, missing 18 of their 22 shots during the rest of the game, and lost 52-40.
Ten days earlier, Copperas Cove suffered a defensive collapse.
Despite building a 21-13 halftime advantage, the Lady Bulldawgs, who limited the Lady Kangaroos to just 1-of-7 shooting in the second quarter, lost containment of Tia Harston in the second half, when the sophomore guard scored 19 of her 21 points, leading Killeen to a 48-44 victory.
While the disappointing start to the district schedule is not what McAdams envisioned, he believes there is plenty of time to turn things around.
“We’ve just got to go to work,” he said. “The season is far from over. We’ve got to keep working and get the pieces together. We’ve got to get them together.”
Copperas Cove is off until Thursday, when it opens play at the McDonald’s Christmas Tournament in College Station before resuming district play at Ellison on Jan 3.
The Lady Bulldawgs were not at full strength against Belton since starting point guard Mikayla Blount, who is one of the team’s best scorers and rebounders, was out of town, but McAdams refuses to use her absence as an excuse.
“She makes a difference when she is here,” he said. “But we’ve got 13 other girls who we feel should step up and play, and that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to find a way. They’ve always had a way, they’ve always had a playmaker, and we’ve got to work together to make things happen.”