There is no denying Killeen’s 61-55 loss to Waco Midway on Tuesday was difficult to deal with.
But the Kangaroos must move on.
“It was extremely tough,” Killeen head coach Reggie Huggins said, “but that was game seven of district going into game eight, so we’re just going to focus on Copperas Cove.”
The halfway point in District 12-6A competition comes with the Kangaroos facing the Bulldawgs on Friday at home.
Killeen sits in a three-way tie with Copperas Cove and Waco with identical 3-4 records, and Kangaroos guard Cortez Ivie knows Killeen must work to stay in the hunt for a playoff berth.
“We need to just play much better defense, make more shots and have a better offense,” Ivie said. “The last two games we lost — to Ellison and Midway — I don’t think we moved the ball as much as we could have.”
And while the Kangaroos were significantly smaller than the Panthers, who have 10 of 12 players standing 6 feet or taller, the 5-foot, 6-inch Ivie battled for rebounds on both ends of the court.
Despite the size difference, the senior does not worry about matching up against taller defenders.
“Not at all,” he said, “because I have heart, and I think heart beats size any day.”
Huggins tried to match up with Midway as best he could, starting 6-1 sophomore Abiola Oladipo at center.
“We kind of rotated between him and tall Ja’len Williams,” Huggins said. “We tried to match up with as much size that we could, and they both played hard, they both played good, and they both played tough.
“They did enough for us to be successful, but we just didn’t hit enough on the outside.”
Ivie opened up the game with a 3-pointer from the left corner to put Killeen on the scoreboard.
Junior guard Michael House followed with a 3-pointer, and a second shot from behind the arc from Ivie gave Killeen a lead be before the Panthers rallied back to come within two points, 15-13, at the end of the first quarter.
“Early on, when we had our lead, we were hitting,” Huggins said of Killeen’s early 5-of-14 showing from beyond the 3-point line. “When we didn’t hit, the lead went away.”
While the Kangaroos hoped to go 2-0 this week, the loss has them focused on taking a split by beating the Bulldawgs
“We’ve played them before, and we won the last game, but that was a long time ago,” Huggins said of the Kangaroos’ 69-66 win at Copperas Cove on Dec. 4. “We just have to get in here and make jumpshots like we’ve made them before.”
Adjustments must be made, however, before Copperas Cove comes to town.
“We have to play hard on Friday,” Ivie said. “We’re going to come to practice, work hard, play defense and make shots.
“We need to make shots.”