COPPERAS COVE — Christmas came early in Copperas Cove as the Bulldawgs took a 66-51 victory over Temple in a non-district matchup Thursday afternoon.
Despite the Wildcats 3-14 record, they fought hard and kept the score close throughout the game, but Cove remains undefeated since Nov. 21, extending its winning streak to 13 consecutive games.
“We have the luxury of having kids who can score from all over and today was Neyland [Block]’s day,” Bulldawgs head coach Billy White Jr. said. “He came in today and got us some good shots.”
Cove was first on the scoreboard with Block’s first three points of his 22-point outing followed by another two from senior forward Jacob Carter.
Temple quickly tied the score with two from senior guard Gavin Thomas and a deep 3-pointer from senior guard Kevon Parker.
Cove went on a 6-1 run late in the first quarter before a turnaround fadeaway shot from Wildcats senior forward Arius Brown evened the score once more.
Block pulled the Bulldawgs to a lead of 19-11 with a long 3-pointer off the inbounds pass from senior forward Justus Honea.
The Wildcats used the first 60 seconds of the second period to tie the score once more with baskets from senior guard Kamron Gossett and Brown.
“Not the best defense we’ve played,” Block said, “but we’re going to get in some practice tomorrow, work hard so we’ll be back even better.”
Cove’s senior forward Tyrese Taylor pulled the Bulldawg’s ahead once more after being sent to the free-throw line, but senior guard Nick Ramirez tied it the score with two free throws of his own.
Honea, Carter and Block all attempted to put Cove back on top with 3-pointers, but as a team, the Bulldawgs averaged 23 percent from deep.
Ramirez found senior guard Anthony Clark under the rim to give the Wildcats their first lead of the game and went on a 6-2 run.
Cove wasn’t going to back down as Taylor come up from behind Clark for a block as he drove down the left lane.
Down by two late in the second quarter, Block put the Bulldawgs back in control of the game, faking to the right before putting up his third 3-pointer of the game.
Block got the second half started for the Bulldawgs before Thomas hit again from the outside to bring Temple within two.
From there, Cove took off with senior guard Tyrese Cooley finding Honea on the outside.
Both teams had stumbles in the middle of the period with failed 3-pointers and dunks for Cove and the ball slipping out of players hands on passes for Temple.
In the last second of the third, Block nailed a jump shot from the free-throw line to put the Bulldawgs up 50-39.
Temple was able to bring themselves within 10 of the Bulldawgs early in fourth before an official timeout was used as Honea wobbled to the sideline in pain and Carter checked in.
“Obviously we would never want anyone to be out,” White said, “but that is a luxury that we have where our guys are very interchangeable and we can move guys in and out in the same spots and get the same production level.
“It’s something we’re definitely we’re fortunate to have.”
Carter added another 3-pointer in the middle of the period to put the Bulldawgs up by 12 points.
By the end of the fourth quarter, Temple had sent Cove to the free-throw line six times with both Brown and senior guard Dion Washington fouling out.
“When we hold a team to 51 points in 32 minutes, I’m pretty satisfied with that,” White said following the Bulldawgs’ victory.
With the holiday break approaching, Block knows the team can use the time to fix their defense.
“Just fine tune everything that we need to,” he said. “Get everything together, so that by the time we get to district we’ll be ready to go.”