It was a long process.
Killeen found itself in an immediate hole Monday afternoon, allowing visiting Pflugerville Connally, ranked seventh in Class 5A, to score 10 of the game’s first 12 points. For the majority of the contest’s duration, the Kangaroos chased the Cougars, trimming the deficit but rarely erasing it.
Late in the fourth quarter, however, Killeen’s patience paid off.
Sparked by offensive outbursts from guards Cortez Ivie and Terrance McKenzie, the Kangaroos surged to victory, outscoring their opponents 12-4 in the final minutes to win 66-61.
Following the game, Killeen head coach Reggie Huggins admitted the outcome was a result of maintaining faith.
“We’re always going to be aggressive,” he said, “we’re never going to stop, and we’re just going to keep playing and plugging away.
“Every play is a new play,
and as long as we have a new play, then we have a chance to win the game.”
Despite flirting with overcoming their initial deficit on multiple occasions, the Kangaroos entered the fourth quarter trailing 49-44, but the momentum quickly swung in Killeen’s direction after McKenzie connected on consecutive 3-pointers. The shots gave Killeen just its second lead since opening the game’s scoring with a free throw.
Connally responded to claim a 57-54 advantage moments later, but it would not last.
Killeen (3-1) recorded seven unanswered points before McKenzie’s 3-pointer created a 64-59 cushion with less than 90 seconds remaining.
“I was feeling good,” the senior said, “and I’m just glad that I could help out the team with a couple shots.”
McKenzie made 5 of 8 3-pointers en route to 15 points, while Ivie scored 11 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of free throws with 28.1 seconds remaining to create the final score.
The Kangaroos struggled early, though.
Killeen missed 12 of its 15 field-goal attempts in the first quarter and trailed 32-26 in the second quarter before a 7-0 run punctuated by Willie McGee’s layup gave the Kangaroos a one-point lead.
But it would not last as the Cougars (3-1) countered with seven consecutive points, and they took the lead into the fourth quarter, setting the stage for Killeen’s comeback.
“We’re just a team that keeps fighting,” McKenzie said. “We just dig deeper and deeper, and the more we communicate, the better we compete as a team.”
McGee finished with eight points and a team-high six rebounds for the Kangaroos, while teammates Chris Goff and Abiola Oladipo each added four points in the win.
Now, Killeen breaks for the holiday before returning to the court Nov. 29, when it opens play at three-day South San Antonio tournament.
While the players will have an opportunity to escape the game, McKenzie is focused on the future.
“To be successful, we have to keep working on communicating on defense,” he said, “helping each other box out and just helping each other fight through any difficulties.”
KILLEEN 66, PFL. CONNALLY 61
5A-No. 7 Pflugerville Connally (61)
Robinson 25, Burgess 14, Perry 7, Powell 7, Washington 5, Myers 3.
Ivie 26, McKenzie 15, McGee 8, Goff 4, Oladipo 4, Ellis 3, Torrens Figuerro 2, Williams 2.
Connally 15 21 13 12—61
Killeen 9 24 11 22—66
3-Point Goals—Connally 5 (Robinson 3, Perry, Powell) Killeen 8 (McKenzie 5, Ivie 2, McGee). Free Throws—Connally 6-13, Killeen 14-25. Fouled Out—None. Total Fouls—Connally 17, Killeen 12. Technicals—None.
Records—Connally 3-1, Killeen 3-1.
MONDAY’S HIGH SCHOOL BOYS SCORES
- Burnet 66, Belton 57, 2 OT
- Ellison 70, Pflugerville 43
- Killeen 66, 5A-No. 7 Pflugerville Connally 61
- No. 5 Lake Travis 70, Copperas Cove 45
- Lampasas 51, Bandera 36
- Salado 67, Rosebud-Lott 39