As the final few minutes wound down and it became apparent the Killeen Lady Kangaroos’ season was nearing an end, the present seemed bleak for the team.
But after the 53-38 loss in the first round of the playoffs to DeSoto, there was a realization the future looks just as bright for a young Killeen squad.
“I was nervous at first, but then I said ‘OK, I got this,’” freshman guard Shianne Johnson said. “I can’t be nervous because this may be our last game. I had to give it my all.”
The Lady Roos still have not won a playoff game since 2010, but a combination of young talent and realignment could change that.
District 8-5A was 1-7 against District 7-5A in the bi-district playoffs over the last two seasons. Starting next season, the Killeen ISD schools along with Copperas Cove, Belton and Waco Midway will be in District 12-6A and will match up against the schools from Garland, Rockwall and Tyler Lee that make up District 11-6A.
Ten of the 14 players on Killeen’s roster for the playoff game were juniors or younger, including a strong core led by sophomore guard Tia Harston, a first-team all-district selection.
For Lady Roos coach Latisha Williams, getting in will not suffice next season. Instead she looks for Killeen to take the next step.
“Making the playoffs for this team is just not good enough anymore,” Williams said. “We’ve got to win in the postseason.
“I’m tired of this one-and-done-type stuff and that needs to be our goal starting in the offseason.”
The youth movement was on display as four starters were underclassmen and freshman Johnson led all Killeen players with 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
Johnson and Harston scored five points apiece in the fourth quarter when the Lady Roos were attempting to erase a seven-point deficit in the final seven minutes.
Sophomore guard Carmen Williams scored two points after starting the game with junior forward Raven Ringo, Harston, senior post Ceida Williams and sophomore forward Keaunna Johnson.
Shianne’s first 3-pointer made it 7-2 Killeen and forced a DeSoto timeout with 3:24 left in the first quarter.
The Lady Roos also got strong contributions off the bench from freshman post Jacen Moore, who finished with four points.
Along with Harston, Moore was a second-team selection while Shianne and Keaunna were honorable mentions on the all-district team.