Copperas Cove rally falls short for second-straight contest
By TJ Maxwell
For the second-consecutive game, the high-powered Copperas Cove offense sputtered out of the gate before mounting a furious comeback that fell one basket short in their 52-50 District 8-6A loss to the Shoemaker Grey Wolves Friday at Bulldawg Gymnasium.
The Bulldawgs nearly pulled off the road upset over no. 13-ranked Ellison 68-65 after a slow start last Tuesday and had a chance to beat the Grey Wolves on Friday with a last second three-point attempt after falling behind 11-0 to start the contest but both rallies fell short for a 1-2 start to district action.
“We dug ourselves a huge hole early and had to battle back from that,” said Copperas Cove head basketball coach Billy White Jr. “It was almost a mirror-image of the other night. Tonight, we got down by maybe 14 and the other night it got up to 16. That’s something we’ve got to get corrected as far as starting a lot faster that what we are. We can’t dig ourselves holes like that, especially with the teams we have to face in district. If you spot a team 15 points, that’s tough.
“We lost at Ellison by three and this one by two. It’s one of those deals where you’ve got to take that bad start out of it.”
The Dawgs (22-3, 1-2) just couldn’t find their rhythm offensively to start the contest. They missed nine attempts, including going 0 for 8 from beyond the arc.
The Grey Wolves, however, weren’t having much trouble scoring as they raced out to an 11-0 lead, punctuated by an ‘and one’ opportunity on a two-handed power dunk by Shoemaker junior Jwan Roberts.
That effort was made easier for the Wolves as Cove’s 6-foot-7 junior big man Tyrese Taylor picked up his second foul in under a minute causing him to sit the bench for the remaining 15 minutes of the half.
“Tyrese didn’t play a minute in that first half,” said White. “He got his second foul with 7:01 left so that definitely throws a wrench in what we’re trying to do. We like to have both Tyrese and Daveon (Thomas) able to rotate through. When we only have one of them, that’s a totally different flow to the game.”
The Dawgs finally broke the scoreless streak with a three-point bucket by junior Quinton Ford at the 2:49 mark for an 11-3 Shoemaker lead.
Despite falling behind as much as 14 points in the second quarter, the Dawgs had narrowed the gap to just five by halftime, 33-28, and four heading into the final frame, 46-42.
After an emphatic third block of the game by Shoemaker’s Roberts started the fourth quarter, a steal by Cove’s Ford and a bucket by senior Jyhlil Rice on the assist by senior Justus Honea pulled the Dawgs within one score, 46-44, with 6:19 left.
Three more missed three pointers by Cove allowed Shoemaker to edge back out by two scores on a pair of free throws by Shoemaker junior Romeo Postell.
The Dawgs had plenty of chances to take the lead but again struggled to find net with their seventh miss of the fourth quarter, including 0 for 4 from downtown, until their fifth attempt by Honea found the bottom of the net for a one-point contest, 48-47 with 2:25 remaining.
A nice feed from Shoemaker senior Du’Wain Thomas to junior guard Jalen Childs briefly halted Cove’s rally but 3 for 4 free throws by Ford then knotted the game at 50-all after a blown dunk attempt by Shoemaker’s Postell with under a minute to play would have put the Wolves up by five.
Thomas, however, put the game away for the Wolves on the next trip up the floor with a pair of clutch free throws that gave his team the 52-50 lead with just 6.9 seconds remaining.
Buckets by Shoemaker’s Thomas and Roberts got the Wolves rolling early 6-0 before a drive by senior guard Maurice Berry and the Roberts dunk made it an 11-0 Grey Wolves’ lead with 3:24 left in the first quarter.
A three-pointer by Ford on the assist by senior Neyland Block and a floater by senior Jacob Carter broke them scoreless streak for the Dawgs. Carter then cut the Shoemaker lead to eight, 15-7 with a pair of free throws.
A putback by Shoemaker’s Childs made it a single-digit 17-8 Grey Wolves’ lead after one quarter of action despite Cove going just 2 for 13 from the field in the period.
The Dawgs began to find their rhythm in the second period on a three-pointer by senior Frank Alvarado and a tip in by Ford that cut the Shoemaker lead to seven, 20-13.
A 7-0 run by the Wolves, however, game them their biggest lead on the night, 27-13, with 5:44 remaining in the half. A three-pointer and pair of buckets by Childs accounted for the Shoemaker scoring.
The Dawgs then executed an 8-0 run of their own as part of a 15-6 run to close the half trailing 33-28. A 2 for 2 trip to the charity stripe by Ford started the 8-0 run and a pair of three-pointers by Honea ended accounted for the rest of the run. Two more free throws by Ford were sandwiched between buckets by Shoemaker’s Postell and Roberts for a 31-23 Grey Wolves’ lead.
A bucket by senior Daveon Thomas and another three by Honea closed out the scoring for Cove while a pair of free throws by Roberts closed out the scoring for the Wolves.
Two more big buckets by Cove’s Thomas kept the Dawgs close despite Shoemaker’s Thomas making three free throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt and a pair of Postell buckets made it a 40-32 contest.
Baskets by Cove’s Block and senior Tyrese Cooley pulled Cove within four, 40-36 and a three by Ford brought the Dawgs within one score, 42-39 with 3:48 left in the third.
A three-pointer by Cove’s Alvarado along with buckets by Shoemaker junior Tavon McCorvey and Childs closed the third out with the Wolves holding a 46-42 lead.
Ford finished with a game-high 15 points and a team-high four steals to lead the Bulldawgs in the loss. Honea added 12 points followed by Thomas (7), Alvarado (6), Carter (4), Cooley (2), Block (2) and Rice (2).
“(Ford) is a dynamic guy and he’s very athletic,” said White. “He can score around the basket and he can step out and shoot some shots. He was able to step in there and do that tonight. Unfortunately, we just came up one bucket short.”
Childs led the Grey Wolves’ offense with 13 and Postell added 11 but Roberts was huge with his double-double performance of 11 points and 12 rebounds to go with the three swats. Thomas added 10 points followed by (Collins (2), McCorvey (2)and Berry (2).
White knows that shooting poorly is a rarity for his team so, despite their shooting 8 for 29 from beyond the arc and 17 for 47 overall, he wants his guys to keep on firing away.
“We got to this point doing that so, we’ll adjust it some, but for the most part our shooters are going to shoot,” he said. “We started off the game not hitting then we started hitting some in the second quarter and got some things flowing. It’s one of those deals where we’ll never tell a shooter not to shoot.”
White is confident his team will respond.
“The good thing is we have 10 of our 12 guys that are seniors so they’ve been through this a few times already so they understand what’s expected of them and what’s need from them,” said White. “There have been two back-to-back tough losses but there is still a ton of season to play.
“I’ve been telling them all season, ‘win or lose you have to have a short memory and move on to the next game.’ That’s something they’ve been doing all season and will continue to do.”
The JV Dawgs also suffered a close loss 58-51 while the Freshman teams each earned wins
The Gold team won 54-53 and the Blue team won 45-41
The Dawgs return to action at home tonight against the Harker Heights Knights with a 7 p.m. tip off.