“You can’t win a basketball game with your head down.”
That’s what coach Jennifer Graham told the Lady Roos in the final timeout as they led Waco 48-46 with 42.3 second left.
Killeen clinched the fourth-place District 12-6A playoff spot with a 51-46 victory against the Lady Lions at home Tuesday night nearly a half hour after Belton lost 44-42 at Midway, opening the door for the Lady Roos.
Killeen and Belton finished tied for fourth with 9-7 records in 12-6A, but the Lady Roos’ held the tiebreaker by virtue of their season sweep of the Lady Tigers.
“Last year was tough,” said Graham. “This class of seniors — I have eight of them — they knew that we had to be successful this year because they’ve worked so hard.
“I knew that if our senior class left without making the playoffs and being successful, it was going to be detrimental to their spirit, and I think they did
everything they could to make sure we came out successful.”
Waco opened the game with an 11-3 run.
“Knowing that the whole lineup was seniors. ... I knew how much the win meant to my team,” said Lady Roos senior Brianna Smiley.
Down by five at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Roos trailed 13-8 before Taniya Harrison got the offense going with consecutive 3s.
Smiley added her second 3-point shot of the night before Kalia Wilborne dropped a pair of 3s, including one at the buzzer to push Killeen ahead 30-22 at the half.
“If we can encourage each other to do better on the court then our momentum goes up,” Smiley said. “And when our momentum goes up we do better as a whole.”
Defensively, the Lady Roos held the Lady Lions to just seven points in the last part of the first half.
As the Midway-Belton game concluded at the start of the final quarter of the game Graham, nor her team, wanted to know the outcome.
“I didn’t want to have that mindset,” Graham said. She told her entire coaching staff not to tell her the outcome. “I didn’t want the girls to have that mindset.
“We were just going to play our game because we can’t control what happens on the other side of town — and we did just that. We did what we had to do.”
Killeen and Waco tied three times throughout the second half thanks to Montierra Warren. The Lady Lion senior led Waco with 19 points.
Umya Davis added 11 points for Waco.
The score remained tied for a minute and a half as Smiley couldn’t drop a free throw despite being sent to the line on three different occasions in the final minute.
Not wanting to end her high school career on that note, Smiley sprinted down the right lane for a layup. A foul from Ke’Turah King sent the Killeen senior to the line once more.
“Not only did we need a team win, not only to secure a spot for playoffs but to know that we ended the season right,” Smiley noted. “So I knew I needed to do a better job on my part, because if one person can buy into what coaches are saying, the others will follow suit.”
Smiley dropped the first free throw and Meleanna Williams was there for the rebound on the second shot to secure the Lady Roos win.
Wilborne capped off the night with 11 points while Smiley had nine.
While the victory is sweet, the real work begins.
“They’re going to rest,” Graham said. “They’re going to get their minds right and then we’ll watch film on who we might possibly play and then we’ll get right to it.
“We’re going to get mentally prepared because it’s a mental game.”
TUESDAY'S 12-6A SCORES
- Copperas Cove 69, Temple 60
- Harker Heights 47, Shoemaker 21
- Killeen 51, Waco 46
- Waco Midway 44, Belton 42