Harker Heights extended its winning streak to three games for the first time this season behind 24 points from senior guard Dillon Gooding as the Knights beat short-handed Killeen 71-59 on Friday night.
The Kangaroos came into the game with two new faces on the roster to replace injured seniors Montego Muckelvaney and Trayvon Todd.
Muckelvaney is out for the season following an injury he suffered last Friday playing against Ellison. Todd was out with a self-reported injury.
“We’re just running out of bodies,” Killeen head coach Reggie Huggins said of adding sophomore Nate Kamper and senior football star Marcellus Johnson to the lineup. “We’re putting in everybody and plugging in where we can.”
There was no sympathy from Heights, which began the night in a four-way tie for third with the Roos, Belton and Shoemaker for the final two District 8-6A playoff spots, and was looking to atone for a loss to the Roos last month.
The first quarter started with the Knights racing ahead 11-3, but Killeen answered with six straight points to bring them within two.
Gooding landed his first 3-pointer of the night to help put the Knights up 16-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Heights (7-6 8-6A) continued to distance themselves from the Roos (6-7 8-6A) as senior guard Jaylin Glover added a 3-pointer of his own.
Jackson Taylor added four more assists and a steal in the period to help Willie McGee and Johnson add another 10 points and bring the Roos within five.
Gooding pushed the Knights ahead by five points. After a late three-point play from senior Roos guard Alfred Lafayatte, the Knights led 35-29 at the half.
In the third quarter, disaster struck the Roos again when sophomore Michael House was injured while attempting a layup. He was escorted off the court and never returned to the game.
McGee continued to find open players, adding assists to senior guard Jordan Frank and junior guard Cortez Ivie, but Heights junior Jarius Cherry put up 3 points of his to give the Knights a 54-39 lead.
Fouls started mounting as the Knights sent the Roos to the free throw line seven times throughout the period.
McGee found Johnson waiting under the rim for an easy right hook but it wasn’t enough to catch Heights at the end of 32 minutes.
Johnson led the Roos with 19 points. McGee added 11.
The Roos aren’t counting themselves out of the district race just yet.
“We don’t make excuses because we don’t have everybody,” Huggins said. “We’re just going to play and see what happens.”
For Heights head coach Celneque Bobbitt, this game was a bit different than other district matchups because of the history he has with Killeen, where he graduated and got his start, and his relationship with their coaching staff.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said, “but they won at their house and we won at our house so we’ll take a 50-50 split.”
The Knights look to extend their winning streak Tuesday when they head to Belton. The winner clinches a playoff berth, and the loser will need a lot of help just to tie for the final spot.
“It’s going to be the hardest thing that we can do because we have to go there," Bobbitt said. "It’s going to be their senior night and it’s going to be their opportunity to get to the playoffs,” he said.
“We’re going to relish this one tomorrow and then get back at it tomorrow.”
Friday's District 8-6A Scores
- Belton 81, Copperas Cove 73
- Ellison 64, Waco Midway 62
- Harker Heights 71, Killeen 59
- Shoemaker 85, San Angelo Central 61
Tuesday’s 8-6A season finales
- Ellison (11-2) at San Angelo Central (2-11), 6 p.m.
- Copperas Cove (1-12) at Waco Midway (11-2), 7 p.m.
- Harker Heights (7-6) at Belton (7-6), 7 p.m.
- Shoemaker (7-6) at Killeen (6-7), 7 p.m.