By Tony Altobelli
Killeen Daily Herald
ROUND ROCK It was another head-scratcher for the Killeen Kangaroos.
A solid first-half effort was obliterated with two subpar quarters in the second half, resulting in a 56-46 loss to Round Rock McNeil on Friday night.
"Once again, we were outworked and outhustled," a frustrated KHS coach Jason Fossett said. "We missed too many layups. You can't miss 10-20 layups at the varsity level and expect to win. It comes down to concentration and toughness and tonight we didn't play with either."
Jordan Brown led the Roos (7-7) with 15 points, while Tre Nichols added 13 and Chris Saunders tossed in 10. However, the rest of the team could only muster six points as Killeen hit just six of 22 shots in the second half.
"We definitely should have had this game," Fossett said. "We need someone to step up and make some shots down the stretch."
For the Mavericks (7-6), Joey Pepe had 12 points seven in the fourth quarter while Marquez and C.T. Thompson each contributed 10 points.
Killeen opened the game strong and had two golden opportunities to grab control of things. Early in the first quarter, the Roos went on a 9-0 run to take an 11-3 lead, only to see McNeil respond with a 9-0 run of its own as the period ended tied at 14.
Again Killeen surged out in front, this time with a 10-0 run to take a 26-16 advantage. But, following a Maverick timeout, McNeil regrouped, finished the first half with a 12-3 run and trailed 29-28 at the half.
"When you get a team on the ropes like that, you have to keep the intensity up and put them away," Fossett said. "But instead, we stopped driving to the basket, we settled for outside shots and relaxed on defense."
Trailing 33-30 early in the third, the Mavericks used a 10-2 run of their own and never looked back as Thompson and Aguilar crashed the boards and picked up several points on second-chance opportunities.
A 10-5 McNeil run opened the fourth and the Roos trailed by 10 with 2:54 left to play, but a 3-pointer by Nichols and a couple of Maverick turnovers gave Killeen chances at a comeback, but two crucial layup misses were followed up by a 6-0 Maverick run and the hosts never looked back.
Helping the Mavericks' cause was the ability to hit free throws down the stretch. McNeil was 6-of-7 from the charity stripe in the fourth.
Killeen returns to action on Tuesday night at Hill College in Hillsboro against Ferris, beginning at 4 p.m.
Contact Tony Altobelli at firstname.lastname@example.org