HARKER HEIGHTS — Normally, one would not go to a basketball game and expect to hear the song “Hakuna Matata” blaring over the speakers.

That was the case Friday in Harker Heights, however, as former Knight and now NBA star Royce O’Neale entered the packed gymnasium to the song that head coach Celneque Bobbitt called O’Neale’s theme song.

Bobbitt, who coached O’Neale, honored the former star player by naming him as the first inductee into the Harker Heights High School Hall of Fame.

To cap the honor, Bobbitt presented O’Neale and his family with his No. 00 jersey framed along with one of his photos from his time with the Knights and his career basketball stats.

“It was crazy. It was like is this really happening?” O’Neale said of seeing the framed jersey.

He said it is an indication of how hard he’s worked and how far he’s come.

Currently, O’Neale is a regular starter for the NBA’s Utah Jazz. He has started 39 of the Jazz’s 42 games and is averaging 7.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals in 31.5 minutes.

At Harker Heights, O’Neale finished with a total of 870 points, 557 rebounds, 177 assists, 127 steals and 57 blocks. He also finished with a 46.6% field goal percentage.

After high school, O’Neale

played at Denver University and Baylor University.

During his brief address to the students in attendance, he told them to focus on good grades and staying true to themselves.

After the ceremony, he said the event was important to show the young people that anything is possible.

For Bobbitt, who is in his 28th year overall coaching basketball — 23rd at Harker Heights — the focus has been the same.

“You either level up or you level out,” Bobbitt said matter-of-factly after the game, adding that is what his focus always is.

He said O’Neale and the three other former Knights playing professionally — albeit, not in the NBA — are examples of that. But he sees more.

“The deal is there’s one more of those,” Bobbitt said. “There’s one more left. There’s more left. There’s more meat on the bone. So that’s why I do it.”

As for the game, if basketball was played in three quarters, Temple would have beaten the 14th-ranked and district-leading Knights 53-44.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats (13-14, 1-4), however, basketball is a four-quarter game, and the 20-2 advantage after one quarter the Knights built was enough to propel them to a 64-55 victory.

The Knights (23-3. 5-0 12-6A) led by double digits for most of the way, and a 4-2 Heights advantage was the closest the game ever came.

After the first quarter, things got a little bit sloppy for the Knights, as they got outscored in the second and fourth quarters.

When the Knights scored in bunches, it was flashy, with rim-rattling dunks by Antwan Taylor, Evan Chatman and Terrance Carter. On defense, play was also flashy at times as Taylor and Carter emphatically rejected several would-be Temple buckets.

The flashy play was not consistent, however, and it was not hard to tell that Bobbitt was not pleased after the game despite the nine-point victory.

“It’s like I told them at halftime, ‘If you want to shut me up, go play hard. Go pass the ball up,’” Bobbitt said.

At halftime, the Knights held a 30-17 lead after being limited to half their production in the second quarter by the feisty and scrappy Wildcats, who played methodically and waited for their opportunities.

Bobbitt said his team played with what he called a “front-runner” mentality.

“We did not do our job. We didn’t,” he said.

Bobbitt added that he may take some flak for his coaching and who he did or didn’t substitute into the game, but for him, it’s about what he has his sights set on.

“I’m getting ready for my playoff roster,” Bobbitt said, bluntly.

Though he said he was disappointed with how his team played in stretches, he said all in all he really enjoys the team.

“You know, you can’t complain because you can see that they can turn it on and turn it off,” Bobbitt said. “But when we get back to playing a team like we played in the Mansfield tournament, you can’t always turn it on and turn it off.”

Moving forward, the Knights have a lot of work to do, Bobbitt concluded.

Offensively, the Knights spread the ball around, and three players finished in double figures. Taylor led the way for the Knights with 18 points, while Carter and Alfred Vincent each contributed 10 points.

Also contributing to the point total were C.J. Evans with eight points, Nate Harris with six points, Chatman with five points, Roderick Pollard with four points, Eddy Ropati with two and Tyrese Smith with one point.

For Temple, Jaylon Hall led all scorers with 21 points. He was followed by Quinton Anderson, who also scored in double figures with 13.

After Hall and Anderson, Devan Williams put in five points, Lawrence Auston scored four and a quartet of Wildcats (Amaree Sewell, Jaydon Hall, Luke Law and Tommy Torres) scored three points apiece.

12-6A BOYS BASKETBALL

Harker Heights 5-0

Belton 4-1

Bryan 3-2

Shoemaker 3-2

Copperas Cove 2-3

Ellison 2-3

Temple 1-4

Killeen 0-5

FRIDAY'S GAMES

  • Belton 51, Bryan 42
  • Copperas Cove 70, Shoemaker 67
  • Ellison 90, Killeen 55
  • No. 14 Harker Heights 64, Temple 55
You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.
0
0
0
0
0

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.