HILLSBORO — Their game plan was working to near-perfection, their defense withstood the pressure, but the rims eventually stopped cooperating.
Harker Heights held South Grand Prairie to 35 points, but made just two field goals in the second half and saw its upset bid against the fourth-ranked Warriors wither at the end, falling 35-30 in their Region I-5A bi-district playoff game Tuesday.
Ben Emelogu hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:13 left and Rick Curry slammed home the game-sealing dunk with less than a minute to help South Grand Prairie (32-3) stave off the Knights.
“They were able to complete, they were able to finish,” said Harker Heights coach Celneque Bobbitt. “We weren’t able to finish. ... We did everything we were supposed to do, just didn’t pull it off. I’m very upset because this was a very winnable game. I think my kids did awesome.”
Cameron Delaney hit two free throws early in the fourth to give Harker Heights (23-9) a 29-24 lead with 7:12 left. After the Warriors tied the game at 29 on a pair of free throws by Emelogu with 5:16 left, Cody Halvorson made one of two from the free-throw line to give the Knights their last lead with just over four minutes left.
But Harker Heights turned the ball over three times in its final six possessions, including an unforced turnover just before Emelogu’s 3.
Delaney led the Knights with 11 points and Halvorson finished with eight. Halvorson scored all seven of the Knights’ points in the third quarter as they held a slim 27-24 lead going into the fourth.
“Like we’ve been doing a long time, it’s the 50-point rule — that goes back to the Class of ’88 at Killeen High, when I played — 50 points is all you can give up and you’ve got to play like there’s no tomorrow, cause there’s not,” Bobbitt said. “Nobody can tell me we didn’t play a state championship game tonight. We played at a state championship level, that’s a state championship team ... I can’t take away anything away from my team.”
Emelogu led the Warriors with 11 points, including nine in the second half as South Grand Prairie fought back from a 20-15 halftime deficit. A 3 by Mark Howell tied the game at 20 with 6:05 left in the third and a layup by Emelogu tied it again at 24, but Halvorson ripped the second of his two 3s in the period with 15 seconds to go to reclaim the Knights’ lead going into the fourth.
The two teams combined for just 41 shot attempts in the first half. Harker Heights made just one of nine in the first quarter and trailed 7-5 going into the second, but Delaney hit a pair of 3s and both Josh Delaney and Andre Hughes converted three-point plays for the Knights.
The first of Cameron Delaney’s 3s gave the Knights an 8-7 lead early in the quarter and Hughes’ three-point play gave Heights a 14-9 lead just under six minutes left.
The Warriors trimmed that to 14-13, but were outscored 6-2 in the final two minutes to trail by five at halftime.
“We knew we had a battle, but I am proud of the way my kids came and fought,” Bobbitt said.