It ‘tis the season for adjustments.
After being down 13 points in the first quarter against Belton, Harker Heights made changes that led to a win in its District 12-6A home opener.
“Belton came in taking care of business,” Knights head coach Celneque Bobbitt said. “We had the videos we watched, but coach (Belton head coach Jason) Fossett changed it up, and they came in here ready to play.”
The 66-55 victory over the Tigers was a much different scene compared to last season’s 68-66 home loss to Belton in the first round of district play. The Tigers also beat the Knights 69-67 in triple overtime during the second round of district last season.
“They deserved to be in the playoffs, because they beat us in our own house and then again for all the marbles,” Bobbitt said. “It was a win-and-get-in game for us, and that loss took us from third to fifth place.”
The Tigers graduated every member of the team that played in the bi-district playoff game last season, but Bobbitt warned the Knights they couldn’t underestimate their opponent.
“Ever since I’ve been here, it’s always been a 2-, 3-point game,” Bobbitt said, “but I tell the kids all the time, no matter what, Belton’s going to come to play.”
The game swung in Harker Heights’ favor on Tuesday, when it started increasing the tempo.
“We had to go and speed up the game a little bit to let my guys do what they,” Bobbitt said.
Despite having a 1-0 district record, the Knights will continue to make adjustments.
“There’s just so much that we have to do to continue to get better,” Bobbitt said. “We haven’t even been to our second tournament, and we’re already playing a district game.”
Harker Heights’ players are also still searching to find their roles.
The Knights have just one returning starter in senior forward Jalen Flowers. Senior guard Jarius Cherry returns to the varsity squad after mainly playing off the bench last year, while Kielan Smith and Jerome Cooper have minimal varsity experience due to moving between squads last season.
“(Cooper) was what we called a JV Killer,” Bobbitt said. “He was averaging 20 points, but he comes up here and gets the big eyes.”
As the Knights continue to learn to play at an accelerated speed, Bobbitt continues to search through his roster for players he can trust in high-pressure situations.
“Sometimes kids turn it on and turn it off,” Bobbitt said, “and sometimes they get stage fright.”
With 15 district games remaining, Bobbitt is always watching to see which Knights are ready to step up.
“The hardest thing is that not everybody is going to get into the game every time,” he said. “I understand, but I can only do as much as I can, because I have to put the kids out there that I’m comfortable with.
“But I also tell them, ‘Don’t ever get down. Even when you think I don’t see your game, you’re still supposed to be working on it, because you never knew when that growth will come at the right moment.”
The Knights will compete at the Cypress Hoop Invitational this weekend before resuming district play at Killeen (1-0) on Tuesday.