By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Shoemaker coach Marc Minatrea always expects his team to play hard. But for Monday's game against Killeen High, the third-year Grey Wolves' coach added one other expectation: Have fun.
Losing seven of its last 11 did take the fun out of Shoemaker basketball; upsetting the ninth-ranked Runnin' Roos 78-77 at home put it back in.
"I told them I wanted two things from them today: to play hard and have fun," Minatrea said. "It seems like we don't have fun a lot of games. This is high school basketball. There's 1,100 boys in this school. There's two or three hundred more that would love to come out and wear the uniform.
"I told them, 'ya'll have earned the right to wear it by the talent you're given and how hard you work. Go out and have fun at the games and just play hard and have fun.' And that's what we did."
Jade Allen's buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter and five-of-eight shooting at the free throw line in the fourth provided all the excitement the Shoemaker and Killeen crowds could stomach. But it took just one free throw to beat Killeen for the first time since Jan. 2, 2008.
Allen made the go-ahead free throw with 4.5 seconds left but missed on his second attempt. Killeen had its chance for a game-winning bucket bounce off of Michael Cummings' foot in the final 3.9 seconds; one of 21 Killeen turnovers.
"Turnovers killed us and (Shoemaker) shot the ball better," said Killeen High coach Jason Fossett, whose Roos have now lost three of their last four. "When another team shoots the ball better than you and they turn it over less than you, you're going to lose."
Allen's 19 points led Shoemaker (8-8) and A.J. McDonald scored 18, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Jared Bowser, who started for the first time this season, scored 14, including Shoemaker's first eight of the game. Ja'Corie Baker, who scored 12 for Killeen, hit one of two from the line with 1:34 left in the fourth that put the Roos (12-5) up 73-72 but Shoemaker JV call-up Roderick Levi answered with his second 3-pointer of the fourth and Allen hit two from the line that gave Shoemaker a 77-73 lead. Baker followed with a layup and Greg Dockery hit two from the line, where Killeen went 16-of-19 in the game. Shoemaker hit just 13 of their 23 free-throw attempts, including nine of 15 in the fourth.
"Jade made a few free throws late. I think he was always 1-for-2, but like I told him after the game, 'you hit one clutch free three throw,' and one was enough tonight."
The Killeen starters scored just 36 points, paced by Ta'Shawn Thomas' 13, but the Roos bench outscored Shoemaker's 41-15, led by Anthony Taylor's game-high 20 points and Dockery's 10.
Killeen, however, turned the ball over twice as many times as Shoemaker, including five times in the first six minutes of the first quarter and Bowser and Anthony Gonzales scored Shoemaker's first 13 points to lead the Grey Wolves' to a nine-point lead.
Michael Smalls hit three 3-pointers in the first 2½ minutes of the second quarter and Taylor scored eight in the period, including two 3-pointers, the second of which cut Shoemaker's once-10 point lead to just one, 38-37, with 1:20 to go and assisted Cummings' layup with 30 seconds left that put Killeen up 39-38 at halftime.
"I think the second group came in and provided some energy and let the first guys know they had to play, but Shoemaker deserved to win," Fossett said. "They played better than us, were hungrier than us, they were scrappier than us. They deserved to win."
Shoemaker opened the second half with a 6-2 run and led by six after Levi's first 3-pointer four minutes into the third quarter. Taylor scored six, Thomas hit four of six from the line and Shoemaker scored just five points in the 2½ minutes after Levi's 3. Killeen led 55-52 after its 12-3 run but Allen hit the midcourt 3 as the third quarter expired.
"It was like a playoff game. It was like a district championship game. It was like a regional tournament game. It was everything," Minatrea said. "I guess when any of the four Killeen schools are on the schedule playing each other, that brings a crowd and that's what they want to see. They saw two teams just get after it.
"I told my guys at the end of the game that 'if (Killeen) throws the ball in with 3.9 seconds and they hit a shot and beat us, I'm just as proud of you because you still played hard.'"
Snapping a two-game losing streak by beating an intra-city rival, that's just fun.
Contact Kevin Posival at email@example.com or (254) 501-7562.