Cove Lady Dawgs eliminate Harker Heights Lady Knights from playoff contention on senior night
By TJ Maxwell
The Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs held off a feisty Harker Heights Lady Knights’ squad in their home finale as the four seniors played their last home game in the Cove blue and white.
“It wasn’t pretty the whole time but it was a win so we’ll definitely take it,” said Copperas Cove head basketball coach Eldridge McAdams. “I knew coach Nelson would have them girls ready to play. They shot the ball well. They shot the ball well at their place, too. It was a good game from almost start to finish.
“I was skeptical of how we were going to play because we secured that playoff spot.”
After the Lady Knights took a 44-43 lead midway through the fourth quarter, the Lady Dawgs finished on a 10-4 run to earn a win for the departing seniors, including a 5-0 run to finish the game.
“We made some clutch free throws down the stretch and got a couple of defensive stops that we needed,” said McAdams. “We got some box out rebounds that secured it for us.”
Strong play in the paint by sophomore Kaysha McCloud and senior Erica Powell started the run and seniors Mariyah Reynolds and Powell, along with junior Madison Griffon, closed out the contest from the free throw stripe.
“It was definitely big,” McAdams said of his post play. “Especially with a team like that who has the shooters they have. If you give that shooter a second chance to keep shooting, they are definitely going to make it.
“It was real crucial. That’s what I told them in the time out. ‘We’ve got to box out and limit them to one shot and get hands up in the shooter’s face.’ We were able to get the rebound, secure it and get down the court and they had to foul us. That definitely secured the win.”
Leading by just one point to begin the second half, 25-24, the Lady Dawgs began to exert their will to build a 10-point lead with 1:15 left in the third.
A three-point basket by junior Jayda Carter on the Griffon assist began the run. Free throw trips by McCloud and a pair of buckets by sophomore Madisen Honea helped the Lady Dawgs push their lead to seven, 34-27, with 3:17 left in the quarter.
A trip to the charity stripe by Harker Heights junior Celise Bobbitt briefly halted the Cove run.
Consecutive baskets by Griffon and Reynolds then pushed Cove’s lead to 10, 38-28.
A free throw and three-pointer by freshman guard Sierra Brooks to close the third quarter; along with a free throw by senior Devany Wall and a three-pointer and pair of free throws by sophomore Destiny Pemberton to start the fourth; quickly pulled the Lady Knights within one, 39-38, with 6:44 left in the fourth quarter.
Back-and-forth action saw ties at 41, 43 and 47 before the Lady Dawgs took control.
Powell made 3 for 4 free throws while Griffon was 2 for 2 and Reynolds was 1 for 2 in the final 2:11 to secure the win.
“It feels great,” said Reynolds, one of four seniors playing their last game at Bulldawg Gymnasium. “We worked as a team and pulled off the win.”
Playing their final game in front of the home fans was surreal for the senior.
“It’s very sad,” she said. “I’ve been playing her for four years with the same people.”
Cove jumped out to a 7-0 with a putback and pair of free throws by the senior Powell, along with a three-pointer by senior Yaqar Elmore.
Consecutive three-pointers by Pemberton, who finished with a game-high 20 points, quickly brought the Lady Knights back within one, 7-6.
A putback by Celise Bobbitt for Killeen and a pair of free throws by Cove’s Honea closed out the first-quarter scoring with a 9-8 score.
A floater by Griffon to start the second pushed Cove’s lead to three but a dagger from beyond the arc by Harker Heights senior Kiara Young knotted the game at 11.
Consecutive three-pointers by Honea pushed Cove’s lead to six, 19-13, with 5:19 left in the half.
Pemberton answered with her third of six threes on the night to pull the Lady Knights within three before a bucket and free throw by Bobbitt again tied the game, 19-19, with 4:21 left in the half.
Another three by Elmore pushed Cove’s lead back to three but a pair of baskets by Bobbitt and Brooks gave the Lady Knights their first lead of the night at 23-22.
A driving bucket and 1 for 2 free throws by Cove’s Griffon and 1 for 2 free throws by Brooks closed out the second-quarter scoring.
Griffon and Honea led the scoring for Cove with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Griffon also added three steals, four rebounds and a steal while Honea added two assists, two steals and a rebound.
The senior Powell added nine points and eight rebounds while McCloud added six points and 10 rebounds. Also contributing for Cove was Elmore (6 pts, assist, reb), Reynolds (3 pts, 2 stls), Carter, (3 pts, 5 rebs), and sophomore Leah Powell (1 pt, 3 rebs, stl).
Pemberton lead all scorers with 20 for Heights (4-9 in District 8-6A), including 6 for 8 from beyond the arc. Bobbitt added nine points followed by Brooks (7), Young (5), sophomore Brielle Dorsey (2) and one point each from Wall and freshman Emri Lovell.
The Lady Dawgs (25-8, 9-4 in District 8-6A) close out the regular season tonight at the Killeen Lady Kangaroos.
The Lady Dawgs face a potential first-round matchup with District 7-6A’s DeSoto (9-3), Cedar Hill 9-4) and South Grand Prairie (8-5) who are battling it out for seeding.
“We’ve got to swing the ball more,” Reynolds said about what her team needs to improve in their final district contest before beginning their playoff journey. “We’ve got to rebound more and we just have to play our game.”