The Shoemaker Grey Wolves are headed to the playoffs after a 65-54 victory over the Killeen Kangaroos on Tuesday night behind 23 points from junior Jwan Roberts.
It marks a successful debut for first-year coach Brandon Gilbert.
“They’ve traditionally been in the playoffs,” Gilbert said. “I didn’t want to be the coach to mess that up. I’m just happy for them that I can get them to the playoffs because once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen.”
After taking a road victory against San Angelo Central on Friday, the Wolves were looking to clinch a playoff spot and avoid a messy fourth-place tiebreaker.
The Roos pulled ahead early in the game, but Roberts went on a 6-0 run and dunked three times throughout the period to push Shoemaker ahead 16-13 at the end of the first quarter.
Roberts also blocked six Killeen shots in the first half.
“I had to set the tone for my teammates, and then after that we fed off the energy,” Roberts said.
Killeen quickly tied the score with a 3-pointer when junior guard Cortez Ivie found senior guard Jordan Frank waiting in the left corner.
Shoemaker went on another 6-0 run before the Roos tied the score again behind a three-point play from sophomore guard Michael House and another 3-pointer from Frank.
Junior forward Jackson Taylor nailed a deep 3-pointer to give the Roos the lead.
Frank added another two points after being fouled and Ivie fought through defenders to hit a hook shot, giving the Roos their biggest lead of the night.
The Wolves answered after Roberts was sent to the free throw line on back-to-back possessions to bring Shoemaker within three points.
It was a 3-point shot from senior guard Duwain Thomas and last-second free throw from Roberts that tied the score 29-29 at halftime.
“We really had to get this win,” Roberts said. ”We’re all juniors and we only got two seniors, so we’re still young.”
An early free throw in the second half from Roberts pushed Shoemaker ahead but a fade-away jump shot from House at the top of the paint put the Roos up once more.
Wolves junior center Romeo Postell answered with a jumper of his own to push Shoemaker ahead, but Willie McGee scored on a layup and drew a foul to tie the score for the final time in the middle of the third quarter.
“It was a close game all game,” Killeen head coach Reggie Huggins said. “We fight the way we fight, I can’t ask no more of the kids, they play hard.”
Frank, Ivie and House each added 3-pointers to keep Killeen within two of Shoemaker but two shots from Roberts and a late 3-pointer from Thomas had the Wolves sitting six points ahead by the end of the quarter, 49-43.
The Roos (15-15, 6-8 8-6A), were hoping to get into a three-way tie for fourth place, but instead saw their season end.
“We’ll pick back up from it, we’re going to find a way,” Huggins said. “Now we got to get to offseason and get better.
“We’re looking forward to the playoffs next year. That’s the only thing we’re going to care about next year is making it to the playoffs.”
Getting his team to the playoffs, has been Gilbert’s goal this entire season.
“I come to work every day because I want the two seniors to end their careers how they started.”
The Wolves (19-13, 8-6) are the only team in District 8-6A to beat both co-district champions Ellison and Waco Midway, which helps their confidence moving forward.
“I think it helps us lot because it lets them know they can beat a top team,” Gilbert said.
“But it’s a challenge up here in Central Texas.”
There’s some tough kids, but it’s about possession. If we can make sure we get the shot every possession and we play good defense each possession. we’ll be all right, but in the playoffs, anything can happen.”
“Once we play together as a team, we can beat any team,” Roberts added.
- Belton 69, Harker Heights 67, 3OT
- Ellison 67, San Angelo Central 53
- Shoemaker 65, Killeen 54
- Waco Midway 64, Copperas Cove 55