Dawgs continue win-streak with 66-51 win over Temple Wildcats
By TJ MAXWELL
Another strong defensive showing and another scoring leader propelled the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs to their 13-consecutive win in their non-district basketball skirmish with the Temple Wildcats 66-51 Thursday afternoon at Bulldawg Gymnasium in Copperas Cove.
Senior Neyland Block scored 10 of the Bulldawgs’ first 19 points on his way to open and 15 points in the first half to lead the Dawgs to a 33-28 lead at the halftime break.
“(Our scoring) comes from all over,” said Copperas Cove head basketball coach Billy White Jr. “We have the luxury of having a lot kids on our team that can score the ball and today was Neyland’s day. He got us some good shots started early. I think he hit the first three or two. That’s something he’s very capable of doing.”
“It’s good for us,” Block said of the Dawgs’ ability to create offense from many players. “if somebody is not hitting one night, we always have someone that can step up off the bench or another starter that can step up and give us points.”
Block then opened and closed the third period with a mid-range jump shot to establish a 50-39 lead heading into the final frame.
“I feel like when we play good defense it transitions to the other end and, when I go downhill full speed, I feel like there’s nobody that can stop me,” said Block. “My teammates were getting me the ball and I feel like that was a big part of it, too.”
After a basket by Temple sophomore Jaiden Pate, a three-pointer by Temple senior Gavin Thomas and a 12-foot jumper by Cove’s Block made it a two-point contest to begin the third period, 35-33, the Bulldawgs began to pull away with a 13-4 run.
A trey by senior Justus Honea on the feed from senior Tyrese Cooley and a free throw by senior Daveon Thomas got the run started for the Dawgs. Senior Jyhlil Rice got in on the action with a bucket in the paint and a pair of free throws to push the Cove lead to eight, 43-35, with 4:23 remaining.
A traditional three-point play by Block then pushed Cove’s lead to nine, 46-37, after a bucket by Temple’s Arius Brown.
A putback by senior Frank Alvarado and a jumper from the free throw line by Block for his 22-point of the contest closed out the period.
The Wildcats again attempted a run, twice cutting the Cove lead back to double digits but the Dawgs were able to close out the contest from the charity stripe, 66-51, with 13 for 17 free throws in the period, paced by Cooley’s 6 for 8 in the waning minutes.
Three successful trips to the charity stripe by Rice, Carter and Alvarado helped the Dawgs protect their 11-point lead while a three-pointer by Carter with 4:40 remaining and a free throw by Ford made it a 13-point Cove lead, 60-47. Cooley finished off the scoring from the charity stripe.
A three-pointer by Block opened the first period and a feed from Block to senior Jacob Carter for two more points gave the Dawgs a 5-0 lead to open the day.
A pair of free throws by Thomas and a trey by senior Kevon Parker knotted the game at 5-5.
The Dawgs then outscored the Cats 14-6 over the next four minutes of game clock for the 19-11 advantage.
A floater by Cooley along with a pair of free throws and a putback by Block started the run. A trey by Alvarado and bucket by junior post Tyrese Taylor and another trey by Block made accounted for the Cove scoring.
A pair of late buckets by Temple’s Brown and senior Nick Ramirez closed out the quarter with Cove holding a narrow 19-15 lead.
The Wildcats took their only lead of the night, 27-23, on a 12-4 run to begin the second quarter. A mid-range jumper by senior Kamron Gossett and a fall away jumper by Brown knotted the game at 19-all before 4 for 4 free throws by Ramirez and a basket by senior Anthony Clark pushed the Temple lead to 27-23 with 3:38 left in the half.
Cove responded with an 8-1 run to close the half and take a five-point lead into the break.
Two free throws by junior Quinton Ford, a trey by Block and a traditional three-point play and bucket by senior Daveon Stringer accounted for the Cove scoring. Temple’s point came from 1 for 2 free throws by senior Dion Washington.
White likes what he saw from his team both offensively and defensively in their last drees-rehearsal before their Christmas break.
“I thought we were giving up too many easy buckets early but, overall I thought the guys played pretty well,” White said of his team’s defensive effort. “A lot of their buckets honestly came off of second chance opportunities so we have to sure that up, especially going into our district race. The defense, for the most part, I was impressed with. We have to close that possession by getting that defensive rebound but when we hold a team to 51 points in 32 minutes, I’m pretty satisfied with that.
Block feels like his team could have been better on the defensive end.
“That’s not the best defense we’ve played but we’ll be back to practice and we’ll get it together,” he said.
Block added a team-high nine rebounds and four steals to his game-high 22 points. Cooley added eight points, three assists and two steals while Alvarado and Carter added seven points each. Also scoring for the Dawgs were Rice (6), Stringer (5), Taylor (4), Honea (3), Ford (3) and Thomas (1).
Thomas led Temple’s scoring with nine, followed by Brown and Ramirez with eight each and six from Parker.
The Bulldawgs (17-1, 1-0 in District 8-6A) will enjoy their Christmas break before getting back to action in the Mike Smith Classic in Victoria Dec. 28-30.
Coach White just wants his guys ready for their return to district action and their road matchup with state-ranked Ellison on Tuesday, Jan. 2.
“The main thing is to have everyone healthy,” said White. The next thing is getting in that tournament and playing themselves back into game shape. So we’ll be ready for Ellison.
“We just need to fine tune everything and get everything together so by the time we get back to district, we’ll be ready to go,” said Block.