By Tony Altobelli
Killeen Daily Herald
GATESVILLE There's something about the Gatesville Holiday Classic that seems to inspire the Killeen basketball programs.
The Lady Roos jumped out in front and held on for a 54-46 win over rival Harker Heights to win the girls' side, while the boys picked up inspired performances from several players to dismantle Marble falls 76-58 to successfully defend last year's title.
"It's a great feeling to come in and win this tournament," KHS coach Latisha Rosemond said following her first-ever tournament finals win as a head coach. "This should really get our confidence rolling. I truly feel like we're ready to go into district play now."
The girls' championship was a defensive slugfest right from the opening whistle, with both teams struggling to find any offensive flow.
"Heights was very aggressive on the boards so we really had to overcome that," Rosemond said. "All of us had to step up. There was high emotions on both sides of the ball."
Killeen used a 9-0 run and an 8-0 run to take a 19-10 first-quarter lead. "We really had to play catch-up throughout the entire game, which is hard to do against a physical team like Killeen," Heights coach Lisa Hess said. "It took us a while to get going offensively. Both teams were very evenly matched and both teams really wanted to win this."
Every Heights run was answered with points by Killeen, which kept the Lady Roos in the lead the entire game.
Jasmine Pitts and Elise Kea each had 12 points to lead the Lady Roos' offense, but it was the all-around play of Nicole Governal that kept Killeen in front.
The senior standout had 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out six assists and provided some solid ball-control in the midst of the Harker Heights fullcourt press.
"We asked her to handle the ball more than we usually do and she did a nice job for us," Rosemond said of Governal. "She was all over the place out there."
Killeen led 44-35 after three quarters, but Heights opened the fourth with an 11-4 run to cut the deficit to 48-46. The duo of Whitney Tucker (15 points) and Nyesha Adams (nine points) scored seven of the 11 points during the spurt, forcing a Killeen timeout with just under three minutes left to go.
"We were a little out of sync and we really needed to settle down," Rosemond said. "We just needed to get through their press and run our offense effectively."
Following the timeout, that's exactly what the Lady Roos did as they hit back-to-back baskets from Governal and Pitts to push their lead up to 51-46 with 1:58 remaining. A pair of free throws by Kea and one by Governal closed out the scoring, while the Killeen defense kept Heights off the scoreboard the rest of the way.
Heights returns to District 13-5A play on Tuesday at home against A&M Consolidated, beginning at 7 p.m.
Killeen will play at China Spring on Tuesday, also at 7.
In other Gatesville Holiday Classic action:
n Llano 55, Gatesville 31 In the third-place game, despite a 13-point performance from Morgan Brock, the Lady Hornets were topped by the Llano Lady Jackets.
n Salado 59, Whitney 57 In consolation action, Kate Marshall had 16 points and Kelsey Gobin added 15 to lead the Lady Eagles. Salado (4-16) outscored Whitney 21-17 in the fourth to pull out the win.
Contact Tony Altobelli at firstname.lastname@example.org