By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Far from a finished product, 11th-ranked Killeen finished off Copperas Cove in the fourth quarter.
The hangover from Killeen's 20-point win over the Bulldawgs less than two weeks ago lingered for three quarters, but the Runnin' Roos finally turned it on in the fourth for a 76-63 win.
Killeen (14-2) missed 21 layups in the first three quarters and squandered a 22-13 first-quarter lead, but hit 10 of 13 from the field in the fourth to pull away and stay away.
"That just shows the lack of focus we had throughout the first three quarters," Killeen coach Jason Fossett said of the Roos fourth-quarter effort. "I think we looked up and thought, 'Cove might beat us,' and we decided to play like we're supposed to play.
"In the first three quarters, I thought we just went through the motions and played extremely sloppy and missed no telling how many easy ones and just played like it was a pick-up game."
Killeen led just 52-45 at the start of the fourth quarter but hit seven of its first eight shots of the period - all at or around the rim - to take a 66-56 lead after Tashawn Thomas' putback with 4:16 left.
A Juwan Rice three-pointer with 3:24 left cut the lead to seven, but the Bulldawgs hit just 2-of-13 after that, taking themselves out at the end and spoiling Jonathan Bridges' final game at Killeen, where he went to school before transferring to Copperas Cove as a sophomore.
"I just wanted to win and that was all. We all wanted to win." Bridges said. "We just came out and we wanted to show that we're not the same Copperas Cove. We're trying to go farther than what Copperas Cove has done and show that we can win and that Copperas Cove is not just a football school."
The Bulldawgs (8-6) lost to Killeen, 73-53, in the championship game of the Marble Falls McDonald's Classic on Dec. 4 but had since won four of their five games going into Friday.
"We hit a few more shots this game and played a little harder this game and that's something we wanted to make sure that we did coming into it, was coming in and make sure we played hard and compete," Copperas Cove coach Billy White said. "... There were still some times there where we broke down, but we've got to make sure we rebound. We're contesting shots, doing well there, but we've got to make sure that we come out and block out and rebound the basketball."
Outsized by Killeen, Cove was outrebounded 51-31 but managed to hang around despite the disparity because of the Roos missed opportunities in the paint and on the free throw line. Killeen went 11-of-26 at the charity stripe.
Killeen junior post Tevin Bartney hit just 2 of 12 at the line, but had 18 points, anyway, and 17 rebounds.
"It's my job, I've got to grab the boards and put them back up on offense and on defense, give it to the guards and run down the court," Bartney said. "... (Rebounds were) real important because, at the end, we almost got kicked out, we almost got evicted. We had to pay the bill."
Thomas scored a game-high 25 points to go along with 18 rebounds and Anthony Taylor scored 23, including eight in the fourth quarter.
Cory Scott led Cove with 18 points and Bridges added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Rice and Ricardo Artis each scored nine.
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562.