Killeen was looking for redemption as the Runnin’ Roos continued the second round of district play Friday night at home, but fell short with a 71-39 loss to league leader Waco Midway.
The odds seemed to be against Killeen from the beginning. Assistant head coach Walt Harris led the Kangaroos while head coach Reggie Huggins was out with the flu, but that didn’t make a huge difference, according to junior forward Jackson Taylor.
“We’re all pretty close,” he said. “In practice we’re all working, all the coaches are with us and we all know the plays.
“We all trust every single person on the team, whether it’s the assistant or the head coach.”
Killeen was also without one of its leading scorers as senior Montego Muckelvaney, who is also a standout football player, was away on a college visit.
While Killeen (10-14, 4-5) was looking to end its two-game losing streak, the Panthers (15-7, 8-1) extended their winning streak to five.
“Every 8-6A win on the road is tough and we’re happy being in first place but we got to try to keep it going,” Midway coach Brad Chasteen said.
The game started as a tight race as Killeen tied Midway twice before a 3-pointer from senior Jhordian Maxwell helped the Panthers pull ahead 13-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Shots just weren’t sinking for the Roos as Midway went on a 20-4 run and led 35-10 at halftime.
The Roos woke up early in the third quarter as Taylor found senior forward Trayvon Todd waiting in the post for a hook shot.
Taylor and senior guard Jordan Frank each attempted 3-pointers throughout the period but they just wouldn’t stick.
Todd added two more baskets on the board with assists from senior guard Jayden Smith and junior guard Willie McGee.
With the Panthers leading 50-16 lead going into the fourth quarter, Harris inspired his team to end on a strong note.
“I just told the guys to have some pride. I mean, we’re at home, we’ve only lost two games at home thus far,” he said. “We have to protect the home floor.
“If anything, finish hard, finish strong and have some pride in yourselves so we can move on to the next game with an upside.”
At the start of the fourth quarter, McGee quickly found Todd for an easy layup that drew a foul on Midway senior Kaitori Levenston.
The Roos continued to fight as junior guard Cortez Ivie drove up the middle for a layup that bounced out. Ivie added two on the board after senior CJ Williams sent him to the line on a blocking foul.
In the middle of the quarter, Ivie found sophomore guard Michael House waiting on the outside for a clean 3-pointer.
Todd later found senior guard Alfred Lafayette for a jump shot from deep.
Late in the half, junior guard Devonte Garrett stole the ball from Maxwell before finding House waiting under the rim for an easy hook shot.
House added another five points in the last minute and a half of the game before the Panthers ran out the clock on their last possession of the game.
Anthony Scott led the Panthers balanced offensive attack with 13 points. He also had nine assists.
House finished with 12 points to lead the Roos. Todd added 11.
“Our guys tried to step up, but tonight it wasn’t enough,” Harris said.
Chasteen and the Panthers are happy with where they’re resting in the standings, but they know they have to keep on fighting to win the district championship.
“We’re happy being in first place, but we got to try to keep it going,” Chasteen said.
“We have history with a couple schools,” he added as the next round has Midway heading back to Killeen to face Shoemaker and Ellison again before hosting Belton at home.
“The challenge will be Belton coming in because we’ve already beaten them badly at their place,” Chasteen said. “We have to practice hard, you can’t let off the gas.
“You have to prepare like every game’s a state championship game.”
The Roos dropped into a fifth-place tie, but aren’t counting themselves out just yet.
“We got to scratch this week out because we know we’re still in the running and we got to have that focus.” Taylor said.
“That has to be our mindset, that we’re not out of it and we’re still playing for something.”
Friday’s 8-6A boys scores
- Belton 57, Shoemaker 50
- Ellison 66, Copperas Cove 60
- Harker Heights 81, San Angelo Central 54
- Waco Midway 71, Killeen 39
- Killeen at San Angelo Central, 6 p.m.
- Belton at Waco Midway, 7 p.m.
- Copperas Cove at Shoemaker, 7 p.m.
- Harker Heights at Ellison, 7 p.m.