TEMPLE — One streak ended and another continued Friday afternoon inside Wildcat Gym, where the Temple boys and girls basketball teams played the second of four straight home District 12-6A doubleheaders.
The Tem-Cats manufactured a double-digit cushion by halftime then fended off the Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs down the stretch for a 49-43 victory that snapped a three-game league slide. The Wildcats, however, suffered a sixth defeat in a row overall and second in 12-6A as Cove cruised to a 65-33 win.
Back on its home floor two days following a nine-point setback to Waco Midway, Temple on Friday never trailed after Coryn Grovey’s 3-pointer made it 4-3 early in the first quarter, held a 12-point advantage at halftime and took a 10-point cushion into the fourth, when the Tem-Cats (8-12, 3-5) delivered in crunch time with the Lady Dawgs nipping at their heels.
“That was a good sign for us against a good team,” Temple coach RaShonta LeBlanc said of her squad’s fourth-quarter stand. “They stayed disciplined and kept executing what was working for us.”
It wasn’t easy during a game in which the two teams combined for 40-plus turnovers and 33 percent shooting from the floor.
Cove (17-8, 5-3), which entered the contest as one of four teams tied for first, got 11 points in the final period from Madison Griffon and whittled its deficit to four points on four occasions — including with 8 seconds left following Keana Garrett’s layup.
But the Lady Dawgs were never closer than four, thanks, in part, to a handful of clutch sequences from the Tem-Cats: Jalisa Perez’s three-point play made it 39-30 with 2:30 to go; Wilashia Burleson had a driving layup to boost the lead to 45-39 and Breyaunna Sigler iced matters with two from the free throw line after Garrett’s bucket.
Those and more — a 12-0 run bridging the first and second quarters and four consecutive points to close the first half from Nacorria Noble among them — added up to a streak-busting victory ahead of two more home tilts next week.
Harker Heights is in town Tuesday and Shoemaker on Friday.
“Always good to get a win. We were able to put a complete game together,” LeBlanc said. “We were running the offense, taking good shots and we got points off our defensive effort.
“If we keep growing as a team, we’ll put ourselves in good situation.”
Griffon paced all scorers with 17 points for Cove, and Garrett had 10.
Grovey and Burleson each tallied 11 for Temple, which had eight players post at least two points.
It took the Bulldawgs 3½ minutes to take a 9-0 first-quarter lead, and they didn’t look back from there in boosting their 12-6A record to 3-3 at the expense of the Wildcats (8-15, 2-5), who again were without injured starting guard Jaiden Pate (wrist) and had limited action out of fellow guard Lathyn Castilleja after he missed Wednesday’s game with a back ailment.
“Like I say, if you lose your two quarterbacks, it makes a world of difference. Now, we’re trying to get some of these young men to play,” said Temple coach Michael Thomas, whose team was held to less than 50 points for the sixth straight game and to under 40 for the fourth time during its six-game skid. “Of course there’s a level of frustration, but I’m always going to stay positive.”
Cove (15-10 overall) went up 16-5 after 8 minutes and increased the buffer to 30-14 by halftime, a trend of building on its advantage that continued into the second half and pleased coach Travis Boyce Jr.
“That’s probably our first game this year being like that, to be honest with you,” Boyce said. “Usually we’re in a situation where we’re up and then we let people back in, or vice versa. But I was very proud of the boys today. They buckled down, they were focused on the stuff I was asking them to do during the game and I think that made a big difference in the turn out of the game.”
Gadge Smith delivered a team-high 14 points for Temple, which shot 30 percent (10-of-33) from the field. Quentin Johnston added eight points and Leon Hudson four.
Nine Bulldawgs (22-of-48 shooting) registered at least two points, a contingent anchored by the 14 from Ahmad Pierce. Tyrese Taylor contributed 10 points.
“Our biggest thing, what’s going on in Temple right now, is we are trying to get a better skill set. I don’t care what offense you run, if you’re not comfortable handling the ball under pressure, it doesn’t matter. That’s what we have to continue to work on,” Thomas said. “It’s just the patience of it. Some people won’t understand the bigger picture.”
Temple is back at it twice at home next week, hosting Harker Heights on Tuesday and Shoemaker on Friday.
FRIDAY'S 12-6A SCORES
- Harker Heights 44, Shoemaker 30
- Killeen 54, Waco 39
- Temple 49, Copperas Cove 43
- Waco Midway 51, Belton 47, OT
- Copperas Cove 65, Temple 33
- Killeen 65, Waco 61
- Shoemaker 66, Harker Heights 47
- Waco Midway 67, Belton 47