Shoemaker sophomore Antoine James remembers what it was like to watch the Grey Wolves varsity team play in the UIL playoffs last winter. This year he will have a bigger role in a postseason contest.
James scored a game-high 26 points to help Shoemaker beat Killeen 65-55 on Tuesday at the Killeen High School gym.
“I saw the intensity that the varsity played with last year and I just wanted to bring it this year,” James said. “It’s a good opportunity. We’ve got to play hard and with the same intensity every game.”
The win clinched a playoff berth for Shoemaker while the loss sets up a big game for Killeen on Friday against Copperas Cove.
Javon Levi added 16 points for Shoemaker while Killeen was led offensively by Demarius Cress’ 19 points and Mikell Clark’s 17.
The Kangaroos will need to beat Copperas Cove at home on Friday to guarantee a playoff spot.
“Every team is going to be hungry every night, it’s District 12-6A basketball so we’ve got to come out here and work every time, every minute,” Cress said.
The teams met for the first time in District 12-6A play on Jan. 16 and Killeen escaped General Shoemaker Court with a 50-49 win, but things were different on Tuesday.
The pivotal stretch of the game came in the second quarter. Though Shoemaker trailed by seven after Cress hit a 3-pointer, Levi countered with a strong drive to the hoop.
“This was a must-win game for us. We basically had something to prove to them,” Shoemaker sophomore Devyn Brewton said.
That bucket sparked a 15-4 Shoemaker run and the Grey Wolves took a four-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
“We played harder, made some changes defensively and made them think a little bit,” Shoemaker head coach Emund Prichett said. “Our guys pounced on it when they were thinking. We made them play at a different speed.”
The Grey Wolves turned the game around defensively in the second quarter as well. Shoemaker scored six points off seven Killeen turnovers and had an 8-6 rebounding advantage.
“Shoemaker came out on the winning end, but I think our guys were playing, we just had some turnovers that were causing us some problems and getting us in a deficit,” Killeen head coach Reggie Huggins said. “It’s basically for everything on Friday, we’re ready to go.”
The Kangaroos did get within a basket four times in the final quarter, the last coming when Dadrien Moore hit the first of two free throws to make it 58-55 Shoemaker with 1:17 remaining.
Grey Wolves post Torenzo Saunders helped build the lead back up by taking a feed from Deondre Hopkins for a dunk and Levi iced the game by hitting three of the next four free throws.
“Coach said to come out here and play more optimistic on offense and defense so we just came out here and had fun on offense and defense,” James said.
Levi came through with a defensive rebound and a steal over the final three Killeen possessions.
“We’ve got to pick up from what we did in this game,” Clark said. “We’ve got to limit our turnovers and everything, go into Cove with a different mindset.”