Montego Mucklevaney scored 18 points and the Killeen Runnin’ Roos bounced back from a pair of humbling losses to beat San Angelo Central 76-60 on Friday.
“We’ve taken two 30-plus losses in a row and we really went back to as fundamental as it gets, especially on defense, and just playing like men,” Killeen head coach Reggie Huggins said after the win over the Bobcats.
The Roos (7-9, 2-1 8-6A) were looking to get back in the win column in their first district home game of the new year and came in looking like a fine-tuned machine.
Killeen sophomore Michael House got an early 19-2 run going for the Roos after finding his sweet spot from long range and going 3-for-3.
House was feeding off the energy as he faked another 3, spun around to dodge a Bobcat defender and found junior Jackson Taylor waiting in the paint for a fancy hook shot that got the crowd roaring and the Roo bench chanting early.
Taylor and senior Montego Mucklevaney led a Killeen defense in rebounds that helped limit Central to five points in the first quarter.
Killeen senior Jordan Frank put up another 3 for the Roos before Bobcats sophomore Tristan Lopez led Central on an 6-0 run.
Taylor ran the ball down the left and found junior Cortez Ivie waiting, ready, in the right corner to push the Roos ahead 35-22 at halftime.
“Teams make runs, we make runs at them,” Huggins said. “It’s going to happen throughout the game. That’s why it’s the great game of basketball.”
Ivie started the third quarter with his first foul, sending Kevon Yates to the free throw line. Mucklevaney quickly turned around on the next play to dish to Taylor for another 3.
Central junior Owen Huff fouled Taylor, sending him to the free-throw line, where he put the Roos ahead by 15.
Taylor pushed Killeen up by 19 points after getting the rebound and tossing it down to Frank in the block. Frank then zipped a no-look over his shoulder to Mucklevaney for a hook shot.
Huff responded with a 3-pointer but Ivie answered by driving down the middle and lobbing it for Mucklevaney, who came from behind for a dunk that got the crowd and the bench on their feet.
Central (6-14, 0-3) responded and cut the deficit to 11.
“When you deal with 16-, 17-. 18-year-old kids, sometimes their attention span waivers,” Huggins said, “so the great thing about us, all my coaches, they have all the freedom in the world to say anything at any time.”
Other teams may only have the head coach out there yelling plays and directions but Huggins’ approach is simple: If someone has a suggestion aimed to help get the victory, they’ll try it.
“We’re a big team” he said, “whether kids have suggestions, whether other coaches have suggestions, we take it and we try to run with it.
“It may not work for everybody else but it works for us.”
As the Roos continued to pull away, Bobcats senior Duriell Taylor came up with a dunk of his own that shocked the crowd and the Killeen bench.
Still, it wasn’t enough as the Roos led 57-38 going into the fourth quarter.
Killeen senior Jayden Smith landed a 3-pointer of his own with 34 seconds left to cap the scoring.
Ivie and Trayvon Todd each added 10 points for Killeen.
FRIDAY’S 8-6A BOYS SCORES
- No. 13 Ellison 37, Harker Heights 35
- Killeen 76, San Angelo Central 60
- Shoemaker 52, Copperas Cove 50
- Waco Midway 61, Belton 37
FRIDAY’S 8-6A GIRLS SCORES
- No. 16 Copperas Cove 58, Shoemaker 35
- No. 9 Ellison 47, Harker Heights 45
- San Angelo Central 50, Killeen 39
- No. 21 Waco Midway 45, Belton 33