TEMPLE — Temple kept reaching the doorstep and Harker Heights continued to turn away the Wildcats.
The visiting Knights mustered enough moxie Tuesday to protect an uncreasingly fragile second-half advantage, answering the call each time Temple threatened and staving off one final push for a 72-64 District 12-6A victory at Wildcat Gym.
“We had a couple of big shots and a couple of kids stepped up,” Harker Heights coach Celneque Bobbitt said. “There’s a little bit that we could’ve done a lot better but to come into Temple and win a ball game, I’m going to take whatever I can get.”
Bobbitt and the Knights (3-4 district) got a game-high 25 points from Ryan Chamberlain and a key 9-2 spurt — including seven made free throws — over the final 2:40 of the fourth quarter after Jaiden Pate’s deep 3-pointer pulled the Wildcats (17-5, 4-3) within 63-62.
Pate finished with 16 points, two behind Elcid Smith’s team-high 18 points. No other Temple player reached double digits, though eight had at least two points led by Quentin Johnston’s eight.
Sean Bright chipped in 16 points and Terrance Carter posted 14 for the Knights.
“They made all the plays down the stretch,” Temple coach Michael Thomas said. “Coach had his guys prepared. I didn’t do as good a job, so that’s on me and we’ll get it corrected.”
Harker Heights took a 52-47 advantage into the final quarter. Chamberlain’s 3 boosted the Knights ahead 63-57 before Pate scored five straight to narrow the margin to one, where Temple’s rally ultimately ran its course.
“We just have to learn from it. They were the better team tonight, so we just have to get back to the drawing board and work on execution. A couple guys have been under the weather, so, like I told them, we have to play through everything,” Thomas said. “(Harker Heights) did a good job but it was more so us just being impatient and rushing a few easy shots that we normally make. But, like I said, hopefully it’s just something that motivates us.”
The lead changed hands eight times in a free-flowing first half, though neither team had a cushion of more than four during the first 16 minutes, which ended with Heights leading 32-30.
It was tied 16-16 after one quarter.
“We’ve been battling and trying to figure it out for a while and got some energy out of the kids last week and didn’t know if it would carry over. I’m just proud of the kids putting it together tonight,” Bobbitt said.
TUESDAY'S 12-6A BOYS BASKETBALL
- Belton 60, Copperas Cove 56
- No. 5 Ellison 80, Waco 69
- Harker Heights 72, Temple 64
- Waco Midway 51, Killeen 46
- BYE: Shoemaker
12-6A BOYS BASKETBALL STANDINGS
Waco Midway (6-1)
Harker Heights (3-4)
Copperas Cove (2-5)