COPPERAS COVE — With six of the eight teams in District 12-6A ahead of them, the Temple Wildcats know that to make playoffs they would have to turn things around in the second half of district play.

A lat rally to try to do so came up just short Friday night in Copperas Cove as the Wildcats fell to the Bulldawgs 58-52 in game that went down to the wire.

“I feel like they played hard and they fought,” Temple coach Michael Thomas said of his players. “That's a good thing for us, It's what I keep preaching to them 'I just want you to work hard and fight.'”

Down by six with 1:30 to play and out of timeouts, the Wildcats (4-12, 1-7) made things interesting with a late flurry. Temple's Aundra Jackson scored on a drive and cut the lead to 54-50 with 1:10 to play. He then got a steal at midcourt and finished the play with a layup to make it 54-52 with 1 minute to play.

The Wildcats fouled Copperas Cove's Warren Fleming who made both foul shots to put the Bulldawgs up 56-52.

The Wildcats quickly got down the floor and Jaylon Hall attempted a 3 that fell short. The Wildcats got the rebound, but three consecutive putback attempts under the basket failed to go in and eventually they kicked the ball out to Hall, who was able to get off one final 3 attempt, which also failed to go in. The Bulldawgs (8-7, 4-4) came down with the rebound, and two free throws by Alonnie Carter sealed the final score for the Bulldawgs.

“It's district basketball,” Copperas Cove coach Travis Boyce said. “All the teams in this district fight hard and all of these games are going to be like this. We've had some pretty close game, but I was pretty confident with our guys and the experience they have.”

The Wildcats held a 26-22 lead with 2 minutes left in the opening half, which was narrowed to 26-25 on a 3 by Carter. Carter then got a steal at midcourt and hit the layup to give the Bulldwags a 27-26 lead with 1:15 to play in the half.

Temple's Joseph Stewart regained the lead for the Wildcats with a 3 from the left wing, but the Bulldawgs again answered with a 3 by Henry Sanchez with 42 seconds to play. And the Bulldawgs Bryce Smith hit two free throws after a turnover to give the Bulldawgs a 33-29 lead at the half.

The Bulldawgs' momentum carried over into the third as Temple came out cold, making just two of 11 field goals in the third quarter, to enter the final frame down 45-38.

“We missed some easy shots,” Thomas said. “That's been our Achilles' heel all year.”

The Bulldawgs expanded the lead to eight early in the fourth and trailed by at least five most of the final frame, until the sequence by Jackson.

It was a critical game for both teams for the playoffs and now Thomas and the Wildcats know they have their backs against the wall.

“You going to have to win some games,” Thomas said. “It is what it is. Going to have to get at least six wins to get in, probably seven. So we have to win some big games.”

The win gives the Bulldawgs confidence moving forward.

“You have to be confident in this district,” Boyce said. “I think it's a wide open circle for the teams not in the top two spots, but anybody can beat anybody, so we have to show up every single night.”

12-6A BOYS BASKETBALL

Ellison 7-1

Belton 6-2

Harker Heights 6-2

Bryan 5-3

Copperas Cove 4-4

Shoemaker 3-5

Temple 1-7

Killeen 0-8

FRIDAY'S SCORES

  • Belton 69, Killeen 60
  • Bryan 59, No. 21 Harker Heights 56
  • Copperas Cove 58, Temple 52
  • No. 14 Ellison 74, Shoemaker 50

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