Tigers fall to Harker Heights in final game
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 by Chuck Kelly
It was Parents' Night last Friday in Tiger Gym as four senior varsity players donned the red and white for their final appearance before the hometown fans --- It was a special night for #3 Justin Owens, #4 Trey Rose, #11 Brandon Goodmen and #34 Tanaj Washington.
Then, the spoiling moment of the evening came --- "Who let the Dawgs out?"
The Copperas Cove BullDawgs (15-13, 6-7) rained 13 three-pointers down on the Tigers' heads on their way to an 83-59 victory, despite great performances from juniors Daniel Mills and Thomas Barnes.
Tiger head coach John Osborn summed it up in one brief sentence: "We didn't shoot the ball extremely well...and Cove did!" 52 percent from three-point range in the first half alone.
In the opening period, the Tigers just could never get into a rhythm, while the Dawgs canned six 3's.
"We came out a little sluggish and gave them some good looks (at the basket) and they did get into a rhythm and never really got out of it," Osborn observed.
Cove outscored Belton more than two-to-one for a 33-14 lead heading into the second quarter.
The Tigers made some good runs at the lead in the second period and got back into a respectable score but the Dawgs sank a couple more treys to go along with regular buckets as Belton led the scoring 15-11.
Cove still held the lead at halftime, 44-29.
After the break, the BullDawgs picked up where they left off in the first quarter. The visitors shot the basketball extremely well, draining four more long-range "threes" while the Tigers came out really flat again. Cove scored 23 points as their defense held Belton to just 6.
"You know, when a team shoots that well in the first half, you think that they can't really shoot that well again...but they did," commented Osborn. "We made some adjustments and thought that we wre guarding them pretty good but they just buried a lotta shots!"
The Tigers clawed back trying to rally in the final quarter, and as a matter of fact, they did outscore Cove 24-16, despite the Dawgs' final three-pointer of the night. It was a good effort but not nearly enough as the scoreboard showed Copperas Cove 83, Belton 59 at the final buzzer.
"When a team gets in a groove and shoots that well, you have to do something extra special to make up for it," said Osborn. "And we just weren't able to make the plays tonight."
Mills posted a game-high 22 points and Barnes got 21 to lead the Tigers in scoring. Braden Hammond turned in 9; Justin Owens had 3; and Trey Rose and Bo Vaughn added 2 points each.
Osborn and his Tigers traveled to Harker Heights for the regular season finale Tuesday evening. The Knights (26-7, 12-2) put an exclamation point on the season, outscoring Belton (5-2, 1-13) by 20 points, 62-42.
"They really are good," stated Osborn. "We started off playing okay. We had a lot of problems with their press last time. I think we did a better job this time but where we really had a hard time was just keeping our composure throughout the entire game. We had some mental breakdowns here and there that cost us early and put us in a hole."
Belton was outscored three –to-one in the opening period that Heights took 21-7. In the second quarter, the Tigers pulled it together and kept it closer, 9-15 as the Knights fashioned a 36-16 halftime lead...a 20-point advantage that was there at the final buzzer.
The Tigers played better in the second half, out-scored 20-6 in the third but came alive too late in the final quarter of the season, outshooting Heights 22-7,
"We actually had a pretty good fourth quarter, winning it big," commented Osborn. "We came to play and had some flashes of doing some really good things. What it came down to was taking care of the ball on a consistent basis. I have to give them (Heights) credit,,,they are quick, athletic and played extremely well."
The Tigers' leading scorer for the season, Daniel Mills, had his usual performance, posting 27 points. Braden Hammond had 9, Justin Owens, 3, and Bo Vaughn and Tanaj Washington each added 2.
The season is over but not the work. Osborn said after the game: "I told the guys that they had the rest of this week off and Monday we begin...we don't have time to sit around. We're going to become good scorers by next year and we're gonna find four things we are really good at and win some basketball games next year!"