TEMPLE — Temple’s Nyteria Colbert quickly hustled into the passing lane and tipped the pass into the air. Except, instead of landing softly in one of her teammates’ hands, the deflected ball ended up with Harker Heights and a few seconds later Celise Bobbitt made an uncontested layup.
It’s true, the ball really doesn’t bounce the desired way sometimes, which is likely how Temple felt about its Tuesday night.
The visiting 23rd-ranked Lady Knights put together a pair of 9-0 runs in a second quarter during which they outscored the Tem-Cats by 15 and pulled away from there for a 68-36 victory in the District 12-6A opener for both teams at Wildcat Gym.
“I felt like defensively we started to clean up some things and we started to relax a little bit and played basketball,” Heights head coach Shirretha Nelson said after her team improved to 9-2 on the year and 2-0 against Temple after the teams met in a tournament game last month.
Emri Lovell tallied 16 points for the Lady Knights, who shot 25-of-59 from the field and 16-of-26 at the foul line while getting at least one point from 10 players. Angelique Morgan added 12 points, Sierra Brooks had nine and Princess Roberts and Bobbitt each chipped in eight.
Aniah Hall, Taliyah Johnson and Aaliyah Thomas posted seven points each to lead Temple (7-4), which shot 25 percent (11-of-44) from the field and made 14 of 30 free throws.
“Offensively, we wouldn’t settle down. Everything was rushed so we created the turnovers for them to play at the speed they wanted to play at. If you allow them to play at the speed they want to play at, that’s a hard matchup for you,” said Tem-Cats head coach RaShonta LeBlanc, whose team had 25 turnovers — including 10 in what proved to be a decisive second quarter.
Temple led for a majority of the first quarter, getting five points from Johnson and a putback from Hall in the opening 8 minutes. But Roberts’ basket gave Harker Heights an 8-7 advantage going into the second when six points over the first 51 seconds and eventually nine in a row from the Knights had them off and running.
“They made it very difficult for us to get inside and they did an excellent job of commanding the boards early on,” Nelson said. “That required us to step up a little bit more and actually put a better effort in.”
The Tem-Cats answered Heights’ initial surge with five straight points to get within 19-12 with 3:56 to go in the first half. However, a second 9-0 run in the period lifted the Lady Knights in front 28-12 at the break.
It was 43-22 after the third and Temple got no closer than 18 in the final quarter.
“Coming out of the gates, playing Harker Heights, that’s always a challenge. They’re a great team defensively and offensively,” LeBlanc said. “We played hard. We just didn’t play smart, especially on the offensive end. We played into their hands a little bit. It’s the first game. Just have to get to work.”
DISTRICT 12-6A SCORES
- Copperas Cove 43, Belton 32
- Ellison 48, Waco 28
- No. 23 Harker Heights 68, Temple 36
- No. 10 Waco Midway 46, Killeen 36