It never gets any easier.
For years, Celneque Bobbitt has coached against his alma mater, but regardless of the time passed, Harker Heights’ head coach cannot help but get emotional when returning to Killeen High.
“I told everyone that I was just so nervous for this game,” Bobbitt said. “There are always nerves when I have to come back home and try to secure a victory.
“It’s always a bittersweet time.”
Friday night, however, it all worked out in Bobbitt’s favor.
After taking a four-point advantage into halftime, the Knights pulled away, creating enough cushion to earn a 54-43 victory.
But it was not simple.
Despite finding its rhythm in the second half, the Kangaroos continually transformed double-digit deficits into a two-possession game before finally falling.
“They do a good job of hanging around,” Bobbitt said, “and we do a good job of keeping other teams in the game by just making bonehead plays.”
Killeen claimed an early 6-5 lead, but the Knights responded with a 13-2 run stretching into the second period, providing the first of several outbursts for each team.
The Kangaroos answered as Jayden White recorded seven of his team’s dozen points in the quarter, and Killeen trailed by just four points, 24-20, entering the third quarter.
The gap quickly widened, though.
Sparked by junior C.J. Evans’ six points in the quarter, Harker Heights pulled away again, opening a 40-27 lead — its biggest of the game — on Jailyn Mayfield’s layup off a turnover. The Knights matched the 13-point lead at 42-29 moments later on Evans’ fastbreak basket.
Killeen closed the period with five consecutive points before posting four of the first six points scored in the fourth quarter to create a 44-38 contest, but the Kangaroos would not get any closer.
Entering the game with momentum after defeating No. 9 Ellison 41-35 on Tuesday to give the Eagles their first regular-season loss since Dec. 7, 2019, the Knights were paced by four double-digit scorers.
Evans posted a team-high 14 points to go with two rebounds and two steals, while teammate Camrin Forde finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. Additionally, Terrance Carter (4 reb) and Jalen Brown-Kaderka scored 10 points apiece for Harker Heights, helping to ruin White’s game-high 17-point showing.
“This district speaks for itself,” Bobbitt said, “and one game builds on the next.”
Now, the Knights, who improved to 3-1 in District 12-6A, will look to maintain the momentum Tuesday, when they travel to face Temple, while Killeen (0-4) plays at Ellison.
Although, Bobbitt is grateful to capture the victory against his high school, he understands it will not get any easier next time.
“Any time you have two Killeen schools against each other,” Bobbitt said, “you can throw the records out the window. All these kids have been playing against each other since middle school.
“We just have to try to make it as special as we can.”
HARKER HEIGHTS 54, KILLEEN 43
Harker Heights (54)
Evans 14, Forde 12, Brown-Kaderka 10, Carter 10, Mayfield 4.
White 17, Davis 9, Clay 4, A.B.Oladipo 4, Scott 3, Marshall 2, Adkins 2, A.D. Oladipo 1.
Harker Heights 12 12 18 12—54
Killeen 8 12 14 9—43
3-Point Goals – Harker Heights 0, Killeen 2 (White, Davis). Free Throws – Harker Heights 10-20, Killeen 11-14. Fouled Out – Davis. Total Fouls – Harker Heights 13, Killeen 16. Technicals – White, Killeen bench.
Records – Harker Heights 3-1 12-6A, Killeen 0-4 12-6A.
12-6A BOYS BASKETBALL
Harker Heights 3-1
Copperas Cove 1-3
- Bryan 56, Copperas Cove 43
- No. 9 Ellison 70, Belton 51
- Harker Heights 54, Killeen 43
- Shoemaker 80, Temple 64