• October 1, 2014

Tem-Cats rally past Lady Dawgs for playoff berth

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Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2014 4:30 am

TEMPLE — As has been their pattern all season, the Temple Tem-Cats haven't been one to go down without a fight.

Not with a playoff berth on the line. Not with it being the final home

game.

Plus, they didn't go down.

Instead, the Tem-Cats, after trailing from the start until there was 1:45

left in the game, overtook the Copperas Cove Lady Bulldawgs with a

frenzied fourth quarter, 51-42, Friday night at Wildcat Gym to clinch a

playoff berth with one game to play.

Temple (11-7, 8-5) is now in a tie for second with Harker Heights (18-9,

8-5) in the District 8-5A playoff race, one game ahead of Killeen (17-14,

7-6) and two games up on Cove (16-12, 6-7). The Tem-Cats finish the

regular season at Killeen on Tuesday in an attempt to complete a series

sweep. Heights will be at Cove. Temple and Heights split their two games.

Copperas Cove must win Tuesday and hope Killeen loses to force a fourth-place tiebreaker game. The two teams split during district play.

Ellison (24-7, 13-0), which topped Killeen 53-47, has long clinched the

title.

There is work to be done, but the business of being part of the postseason is accomplished.

"We're happy and proud, but we're not satisfied," said Temple senior guard Jazzmen Ortiz, who canned three second-half 3-pointers — two from NBA range — en route to a game-high 17 points. "We didn't want this to be the end. This is the last game (the seniors) will play in this gym."

They made sure of it by outscoring the Lady Dawgs 20-6 in the fourth

quarter after trailing by 10, 41-31, with 4:47 to go. In fact, the

Tem-Cats didn't get on the board until Alexis Garcia hit a jumper at the

4:35 mark.

From that point on, the Tem-Cats went on a 20-2 run to close the game.

Tyesha Taylor sandwiched a pair of close-range baskets around an Ortiz

trey to even the score 41-41 with 3:00 to play. The game remained tied

after single made free throws by Cove's Mikayla Blount and Taylor.

Temple's first lead came with 1:45 remaining when Toriana President calmly nailed a long two-pointer from the left wing. That was the only field goal President made and it was the last the Tem-Cats would make. President, Ortiz, Taylor and Kiantra Flowers combined to hit seven free throws in the last 39 seconds to wind up winning going away.

"Our girls won't quit. They stay in it until the end," said Temple coach

Tamarah Sanders. "They have so much heart and you can't teach that."

It didn't hurt that the Tem-Cats had just two turnovers in the second half compared to the 13 in the first half.

Cove had won five of its last six games to get into playoff contention.

The Lady Dawgs remained hot to start this game, going 7-of-14 from the field to take a 17-8 first-quarter lead. Cove kept it going for a 28-18

halftime lead with Blount pumping in 14 of her game-high 18 points in the first 16 minutes.

Temple chopped that lead in half by the end of the third, sparked by two

long-range threes from Ortiz. Temple trailed 36-31 going into the

fourth.

The shots that fell early on quit falling for Cove and the Tem-Cats took

full advantage.

"We rushed a lot of shots and Temple did what they do," said Cove coach Eldridge McAdams. "We knew it would be a tough dogfight. It just shows you've got to play four quarters."

Taylor added 16 points for the Tem-Cats.

"In the first half, everything Cove shot was going in," Sanders said. "Hats off to them doing what they needed to do."

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