The Copperas Cove Bulldawgs came into Tuesday's season finale with one thing on their minds playoffs.
In order to attain its goal, Cove had to defeat the Temple Owls at home and hope for a Shoemaker loss at Bryan.
They didn't get either.
The Dawgs fell 72-68 to Temple and Shoemaker defeated Bryan by 19. The game started off well for the Dawgs, who built an early 8-5 lead. Four of those points came off two huge dunks by the Dawgs' Trivez Tucker. One came on a rebound and putback. But the second, and more ferocious, came a few moments later, when Tucker leaped from outside the key and soared in for a one-handed tomahawk.
"We got the two huge dunks because we were in the right place," said Cove head coach Billy White. "But we weren't moving like we needed to be moving."
Unfortunately for Cove, those words rang true because those dunks were the last points the team scored until two minutes into the second quarter.
"It was a rough game," said White. "Its hard to win when you spot the other team a 16-point lead."
Using sloppy Bulldawgs play, the Wildcats stole momentum from Cove and didn't look back.
Leading 11-8, Temple's leading scorer, Roddric Dodd, stole an in-bound pass and slammed the ball down. The huge dunk was immediately followed by another steal, this time by Wildcats shooting guard Chad President, who laid it in for the easy basket.
Before Cove could catch its breath, President struck again, but hit the 3 to double the Wildcats' lead at 16-8.
All told, the run took Temple from down 8-7, to leading 19-8 by the end of the first quarter and 36-20 at halftime.
A lack of rebounding hurt Cove early. Temple's Andre Schooley held down the paint with 10 rebounds and six points.
White didn't think Schooley was doing anything special, more like his team wasn't going after the loose balls.
"We have to go after the boards. He was going after them and we weren't." White said.
The third quarter brought more of the same for both teams.
Temple continued its run, extending its lead to 25-10 before Cove hit both free-throw attempts by Rashard Odomes with just over six minutes left in the quarter.
Temple went into the final quarter leading 57-41, and feeling like the game was locked-up. The Bulldawgs showed their true colors, by outscoring the Wildcats 27-15.
The Dawgs erased the 16-point deficit and ultimately drew the score to within four points before running out of time.
Cove's Cory Scott scored 15 of his team-high 25 points during a torrid stretch that saw the Dawgs claw back into the game.
Copperas Cove finished the season with a record of 17-14, 7-7 in District 12-5A. Despite not making the playoffs, White feels confident about the future.
"We haven't had a winning record since I have been here and we are returning six players," said White. "We'll take bits and pieces from this entire season to build our future."