Behind 24 points from senior guard Jyhlil Rice on Saturday afternoon, the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs went undefeated in the Dawg Pound Showdown after taking an 84-57 victory over Round Rock Stony Point.
Senior forward Justus Honea got the scoroing started for the Bulldawgs (15-1) with an early 3-pointer after Grant El-Dier put the Tigers on the board first.
It was a team effort in the first three minutes of the quarter as Rice scored on a layup, Neyland Block on a putback, and junior center Tyrese Taylor’s assist to senior guard Tyrese Cooley under the basket.
With 10 seniors on the team, head coach Billy White Jr. attributes the fluidity of the team to its tight-knit connection.
“They’ve been through the trenches now with this,” White said. “They’ve been through the ups and lows and they understand what to expect and they understand what needs to happen at each particular time.”
Block connected with Honea for a deep 3 before being sent to the free-throw line on the next possession to add another two on the board for the Bulldawgs.
Stony Point answered with a 3-pointer of its own from Quaylan Lomax and another basket from Omar Smart.
Block and Cooley found Rice in the post on back-to-back plays to quickly put Cove on a 6-0 run before Stony Point called its second timeout of the quarter.
At the buzzer, senior guard Daveon Stringer hit a 3-pointer to give the Bulldawgs a 17-point lead, 31-14.
Rice had quite the start with 13 of Cove’s points in the first eight minutes.
The second quarter started with Rice fouling the Tigers’ Deshawn Jackson, who cut Cove’s lead to 15. Honea quickly pushed the lead back to 18 with a 3-pointer.
Stony Point responded with a 3-pointer of its own from Taylan Artis.
The Bulldawgs had a few hiccups in the quarter but never lost their composure.
Rice found Honea for another 3 that spun out, but Carter was there for the putback.
In the last minute of the half, Carter canned another long jumper.
Artis tried to get the Tigers on the board before the end of the half but was called for traveling on a layup, giving Cove possession with 15 seconds left.
Honea was fouled shooting a 3 and made all three free throws to give the Bulldawgs a 52-23 halftime lead.
The Tigers started the second half with Artis finding Smart for a long jumper and two more from Jackson.
The Tigers changed their defense as they started to double up defenders on the guards, but Carter found senior center Daveon Thomas open in the post from midcourt.
Stony Point’s Myron Machado looked to end the quarter in the Tigers’ favor with an open 3-pointer.
With 15 seconds left in the period, Alvarado answered with an open 3 of his own, putting Cove up by 29, 70-41.
In the fourth quarter, Machado drove to the basket, but Taylor beat him to the rim and quickly rejected his layup attempt, drawing cheers from the Cove crowd.
On the next play, Cooley found Taylor in the post for another two points.
Moments later, Honea found Carter at midcourt. Carter dished to Alvarado, who found Taylor for the layup extending the Bulldawgs’ lead to 37.
“That’s really how we score a lot of points,” Block said. “We move the ball and share the ball.”
The Tigers continued to try and chip away at Cove’s lead with 3-pointers from Tyler Heltzel, Andre Mancilla and Shawn Williams.
With District 8-6A play on the horizon, White notes that the district is the type where you cannot focus on one team more than any other, but the players do have one team in their sights.
“Ellison,” Block and Carter agreed.
“They’re ranked higher than us in state right now,” Block said, “and they’ve taken it from us in the past, so I’m excited to play them.”
Carter echoed the sentiment.
“We both have pretty good records. They looked pretty good last year and are looking pretty good this year, so that’s kind of who we’re going out for.”