By Tony Adams
Anytime that you go into Killeen High School’s gymnasium, you have to bring your best game. No matter how the Roos are playing.
The Belton Tigers are always cognizant of that fact. Some nights are tougher than others.
Jordan Russell was a man on fire Friday night, as he scored 33 points and had five assists.
But the 9-6 Tigers had to contend with 6-foot-3 reserve forward Montego Muckelvaney coming off the bench and he making his presence immediately known. He drained three second-half three-pointers and scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Roos to a 69-60 home win last Friday night.
Russell hit the first three-pointer just 14 seconds into the game.
“From that moment, I was feeling it,” Russell said. “My confidence from there kept steamrolling.”
Russell had 11 points in the first quarter and Belton took a 15-7 lead into the second quarter.
With 2:28 left in the first half, Russell swished a 23-footer and Belton extended its lead to nine points, 28-19.
Killeen then finished the half on a 10-2 run, as Belton held a single-point lead at the halftime break, 30-29.
Killeen outscored the Tigers 15-12 in the third quarter, and the Roos led 44-42 heading into the final stanza.
With 3:42 to play and Killeen ahead 51-49, Muckelvaney swished a three-pointer, extending the Roos lead to 54-49. Belton got no closer.
“He was so clutch,” said TJ Robinson, who scored all 10 points on free throws. “When someone gets hot, we keep feeding that person — and he was the hot shooter tonight.”
Killeen hit 28 of 35 free-throw attempts, including 15 of 19 in the fourth quarter.
“Winning the game,” said Killeen head coach Reggie Huggins. “Winning the game. That’s all our kids wanted to do tonight: Make sure from start to finish that they were only focused on one thing: winning the game.”
“Give full credit to Killeen,” said Belton head coach David President. “They made the clutch plays down the stretch they needed to make. They are a very good team. But I am proud of the way my guys played — they never stopped hustling and that’s what I wanted to see.”
Russell was the floor general for Belton in this contest. He is capable of high-scoring, high-pressure offense every night.
“He played excellent tonight,” said President of Russell. “But it didn’t surprise me. He’s showing senior leadership for us.”
“I was impressed with Jordan Russell,” Huggins said. “We knew he was tough. And Belton is a very tough team. This whole league is excellent. Everybody knows everybody, too. There really aren’t any secrets in this league. I’m just proud of our kids for staying focused tonight. They never got rattled. They kept their minds on what mattered — winning the game.”
“It is senior leadership,” Russell said. “Coach expects me to step up and that’s what I tried to do for us tonight. The assists meant a lot to me, too. Coach wants me to trust my teammates — and I do.”
Dontori Lott had a game-high nine rebounds, three blocks and six points. Steven Sauls scored eight points and Ruben Freeman chipped in six.
Michael Arranda was key for the Roos scoring 17 points in the game.
The Tigers return to action on Monday, December 28 in Hewitt as they take part in the MT Rice Tournament at Midway. They will play Vanguard at 8 a.m. at Midway Middle School (800 Hewitt Drive, Waco), New Braunfels at Midway High School (8200 Mars Drive, Waco) at 2 p.m. and Georgetown at Midway Middle School at 11 a.m.