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Fans watch as Killeen's boys basketball team practices Thursday in anticipation of the upcoming season.

Practice for boys basketball teams began Wednesday, and Killeen decided to open its first one of the season to the public.

While Kangaroos head coach Reggie Huggins said all practices are open to anyone who wants to check out the players, this specific event was a way to allow parents to see what their kids do while also helping young players adjust to playing with eyes on them.

“We also want a team where people want to come and support,” Huggins said. “We’re very transparent, very accessible and we just want people to come and enjoy what we do.”

Killeen attended a camp at Texas A&M this summer, when the idea to hold an open practice was born.

“It doesn’t really bother me,” junior returning guard Mike House said of the practice, “because playing with Cortez Ivie, there’s always a lot of eyes watching.”

Having a crowd in attendance for the first practice of the season only helps add to the excitement for the Kangaroos, who have five returning players this season.

“I love the atmosphere of high school basketball,” Ivie said. “So it feels great to be back.”

The opportunity to hit the court and get back to work has the Kangaroos motivated with their eyes set on making a return appearance to the playoffs.

“This will be the third year of a process to get us to the playoffs,” Huggins said. “These guys have paid the price in every way.

“They’ve seen the downside, and they’ve seen how injuries play in making it to the playoffs or not. They’ve seen it all.”

Although Killeen graduated leaders on the court, Huggins is confident his seniors will be able to fill the role.

“I always have to be a leader,” senior forward Jackson Taylor said. “It’s not only by how I talk but also by example.

“That’s a big thing for me — always be an example by being the hardest working on the floor.”

“We just have to get the new guys involved,” House said, “because just five guys can’t win a game.”

Despite the district growing to include nine teams, the Kangaroos head into the season ready to make a statement and their eyes are on redemption.

“Obviously, Waco Midway — they’re a big powerhouse, so we want to play them,” Taylor said, “but also Shoemaker. We want to get our redemption from how we ended last season.

“And then make it to playoffs.”

fcardenas@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7562

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