The 2017 Bo Burgess Classic kicked off Wednesday afternoon with victories for both host schools — Killeen and Harker Heights.
The morning match up between Harker Heights and Austin Eastside Memorial started with a 3-pointers from both teams.
Memorial held its only lead of the game early in the first period before the Knights took off and never looked back.
Rebounding was key for Harker Heights, both offensively and defensively. The Knights rarely gave the Panthers any second chances.
A 20-3 run late in the first quarter had the Knights sitting at a comfortable lead as they defensively kept Memorial at bay, allowing only 13 points in the second quarter.
The Panthers got 15 points total in the second half, and despite their efforts, started the first day of the tournament 0-1 falling 94-41.
Across town, Killeen opened with a 76-25 victory over El Campo behind 18 points from senior Montego Muckelvany.
The Roos defense held off the Ricebirds, never allowing them to score more than 10 points in a quarter.
The afternoon went differently for Heights as it fell 64-57 against Houston Episcopal despite double-digit scoring from junior forward Jalen Flowers and senior guard Dillon Gooding.
Killeen went 2-0 in the Classic with an afternoon victory over Houston St. Pius X, a top 10 private school.
The Roos started strong with outside shots from junior guard Cortez Ivie and senior guard Jordan Frank.
The Panthers fought to keep the score close as Killeen kept St. Pius at a 10-point distance twice throughout the first period until a shot from under the basket pulled them back within six points with Killeen leading 19-13 at the end of the first eight minutes.
The Roos weren’t done dropping 3-pointers as Ivie knocked in another one but St. Pius’ Jacob Jefferson answered with one of his own to bring the Panthers back within 10.
Killeen quickly found its groove and everyone got in on the action.
Ivie brought the ball to the left before passing to sophomore guard Michael House, who was waiting outside on the in the top right corner.
House passed it back to Ivie, who then found Muckelvany waiting in the left corner before tossing a high, long pass down the baseline to junior guard Willie McGee, who was waiting opposite of him.
McGee dribbled two steps in before make a swift bounce pass to junior forward Jackson Taylor in the paint to give the Roos their biggest lead of the game.
“We need all 14 guys,” Killeen head coach Reggie Huggins said, “not just one guy doing it all ... and for these two games today, all 14 guys contributed and made a difference, winning twice.”
Despite another three from Muckelvany, St. Pius went on a 9-0 run late in the first half, but Killeen held a 12-point lead at halftime, 39-27.
On the defensive side, the Roos came out looking like a different team then they’ve been earlier in the season.
Players were communicating on the floor, they flowed in and out of position when in their zone defense and the game tempo was in their control.
Killeen ran the ball when they wanted and slowed down when they needed to set up their offense in order to execute — all attributes Muckelvany credits to their time off the court.
“We spend a lot of time not only in-school basketball but out-of-school basketball, like at the Long Branch Park,” he said. “We just work on our own stuff, we always pick up each other and work on what we have to do.
“We’re just trying to get chemistry, and lots of it, so we can win because we all want to go to playoffs and win so that’s our focus.”
“I think the break helped us,” Huggins said as he gave his players their winter break to “just be kids.”
“We didn’t practice, not one time over the break,” he said. “That’s kind of been my thing lately is just let them be kids, let them be young adults and have fun.
“They want to go to the mall, they want to Christmas shop and all this other stuff they can go ahead a have it but when we come back let’s be refreshed and they came fresh today.”
The second half of the game was a repeat of the start with yet another 3-point play from Frank.
Killeen was ahead 14 points at the end of the third quarter, 51-37.
The fourth quarter was a show for the Roos fans in attendance as Muckelvany came out with a dunk that got the crowd going and every member on the bench standing.
St. Pius continued to inch its way closer to Killeen as junior guard Ty Montgomery drove the ball down the middle, but a Roos defender’s smack of the backboard caused the ball to spin out.
The officials called goaltending on Killeen, which brought the Panthers score within 13 points once more.
The Roos didn’t let this ruin their momentum as senior forward Trayvon Todd found Ivie waiting in the paint before Ivie tossed the ball up setting Todd up for Killeen’s second dunk of the night.
Muckelvany ended his night with McGee finding him under the rim for a fancy hook shot that got quite the reaction from the crowd.
By the last two minutes of the game, all five starters were resting on the bench but the Roos just ran the clock down as they took a 20-point victory over St. Pius, 71-51.
“For the most part, they played really smart basketball and that’s all I can ask for,” Huggins said.
Although they have a second day of tournament play, and they aren’t underestimating any of the competition, district play is never far from their thoughts.
“You know, we’re not overlooking people but this tournament is getting us ready for Midway,” he said. “That’s really our No. 1 concern.
“Our district opponent is the most important because it determines playoffs, if we go to the playoffs or not.”
The second day of the Bo Burgess Classic has Killeen facing Rudders at 10:30 a.m. today, while Harker Heights will play at the same time versus Killeen’s junior varsity in Heights.