By Justin Boyd
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS It may not have been their best game, but it was enough to dispatch the Belton Tigers on Friday night.
The Harker Heights Knights held Belton to just 15 second-half points, turning a close 33-27 game at the half into a 64-42 blowout victory.
"Belton always comes and gives their best effort against us," Knights head coach Celneque Bobbitt said. "This was a big-time rivalry when we were in 4A. So I just don't understand why the kids got lackadaisical. We played hard at the start and then totally fell apart in the middle of the game. But that's what we've been doing all second round of district. At least we finished it out a little bit in the second half."
The victory snapped both a three-game district losing streak and a three-game home losing streak for the Knights (18-13, 8-5), who now head to Bryan on Tuesday night with a District 13-5A playoff spot up for grabs.
Because of a 51-48 loss to Bryan back on Jan. 21, Heights is one game back of the Vikings for the third and final playoff spot. The Knights, who are tied with Shoemaker for fourth in the district standings, would have to win Tuesday to force a playoff tiebreaker between the two squads, a game that would be played later next week. If the Knights beat Bryan and Shoemaker defeats Belton on Tuesday, there would be a three-way tie for the final postseason spot.
"Tuesday night is going be a big night," Bobbitt said with a smile.
On Friday night, though, Heights got big nights from shooting guard Mike Straughn and forward Demetri Jones.
The two seniors delivered on senior night as Straughn scored 16 points and Jones added 15, and seven rebounds.
"We've been trying to get a good game out of Demetri because we know we can get it," Bobbitt said. "We've been telling him to just use his size and capitalize on what he has. And Mike, we've been telling him to try to play aggressive, take the ball to the basket and stop settling for his jumpshot and he finally did."
Thirteen Heights' first half turnovers and a 4-for-12 shooting performance in the second quarter allowed Belton to come back from an early 11-point deficit to be down by only six, at 33-27, at the break.
In the second half, though, the Knights took care of the ball, buckled down on the defensive end and, when on offense, took the ball to the hoop early and often.
After a reverse layup by forward Brandon Jefferson brought the Tigers to within four, Heights went on a 15-5 run in which Straughn and Jones scored 13 of the 15 points.
Leading 48-34 at the end of the third, the Knights put the contest away with a 10-3 run to push the lead to 58-37 with three minutes to play.
After shooting 50 percent from the floor in the first half, Belton (9-22, 3-10) cooled off considerably in the second, hitting just 31 percent.
Forward Hudson Kennedy led the Tigers, who host Shoemaker on Tuesday night, in scoring with 13 points while forward Tony Thompson added eight points and four rebounds for the Knights in the win.
Tuesday's contest with Bryan tips off at 7:30 p.m.
Contact Justin Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org