Temple spent Tuesday night chipping away at a double-digit deficit and willed its way to nine points down 3 minutes into the third quarter before Harker Heights pulled away once more and eventually collected an 82-67 victory at Wildcat Gym.
Guards Jaylon Hall, Lawrence Auston and Aundra Jackson combined to produce their share of dazzling drives to the basket and 44 points for the Wildcats (3-10, 0-5 District 12-6A), who pulled within 47-38 with Joseph Stewart’s putback at the 5:15 mark of the third quarter but couldn’t fully rebound from the Knights’ early onslaught.
Hall led the way with 17 points, Auston had 15 and Jackson 12.
Camrin Forde posted 20 points to pace Heights (10-2, 4-1), which got at least two points from 12 players. Terrance Carter added 15 for the district co-leading Knights, who turned a spree of Temple turnovers into a 12-0 lead 4 minutes into the first quarter and finished the opening 8 minutes ahead 25-10.
“It’s been the same thing all year long. It’s us more than (the opponent). We give (Heights) credit. They won the game. But, I tell them, the game of basketball is very simple. You have to take care of the basketball and you have to rebound,” said Temple coach Michael Thomas, whose squad played its third straight league game without starting center Leon Hudson — who could return for Friday’s home game against Killeen, Thomas added. “We have to do better. And that’s what I challenged the guys with. It’s easy to lay down. We haven’t won a district game yet. But, you have to be willing to fight.”
That’s essentially what the Wildcats did to keep the Knights within reach. Temple whittled Heights’ lead to 41-29 by halftime and got it to the manageable nine-point gap with five points from Jackson, three from Hall and Stewart’s bucket.
However, the Knights outscored the Wildcats 14-5 the rest of the quarter and took a 61-43 advantage into the fourth, during which Heights went ahead by as much as 22 points.
“I’m pleased with the effort. If we play hard, we give ourselves a chance,” Thomas said. “The biggest thing with us is maturity. There are a lot of young guys in that room. We are just trying to gain experience.”
Taurean York chipped in seven points and Treyvion Wells had five for Temple. Evan Chatman scored all nine of his points via 3-pointers for Heights, which also used eight points from Shavar Walker and seven from Jalen Kaderka-Brown.
“First of all, give Temple credit. They have a young team. They’ll be a team to be reckoned with. But we knew we had a size advantage and worked on some execution,” Harker Heights coach Celenque Bobbitt said. “We knew they weren’t going to let us come in here and slam dunk on them. So, I told my guys to play hard and play good defense.”