Multiple Teams · SWEET 16!

Allan Mandell | Herald staff writer Killeen Daily Herald

by Allan Mandell

WACO — How SWEET it is!

The Killeen Lady Roos advanced to the Sweet 16 in the Class 6A UIL State Championships after a 46-39 victory over Richardson on Tuesday night at Waco High School.

This is the first time in 24 years that Killeen’s Lady Roos have advanced to the Sweet 16.

“It feels great to make it to the Sweet 16,” said Killeen senior forward Ke’Aunna Johnson. “Tonight was a big test for us. It was just a question of ‘Who wanted it more?’ Well, I think we showed it was us who wanted to win this game more.”

No. 24-ranked Richardson (25-8) has two highly touted seniors: Dorian Branch, a University of Houston commit, and ArLeighshya McElroy, committed to Texas A&M.

But Killeen’s wire to wire pit-bull defense never let either dominate play. McElroy ended the contest with 11 points and only one second-half field goal. Branch was totally shut out in the first half and ended the night with 13 points.

Killeen (33-4) led 9-8 after one quarter and the contest was tied 16-16 at halftime.

The Lady Roos led 29-27 after three quarters and then — and there is no other way to put this — completely outhustled Richardson in the final frame.

“To hold a team with as much talent as Richardson has to just 39 points tells you a lot about the fight of our kids,” Killeen head coach Latisha Williams said. “Just 39 points! That’s crazy. In the fourth quarter, our girls just decided they were not walking off this court without the win. They showed how tough they are and how much they wanted it.”

Killeen’s two starting forwards were sensational. Johnson scored 12 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, dished a game-high three assists and made two steals. Junior post Jacen Moore had a game-high 12 rebounds, four blocks, eight points and two assists.

“Making the Sweet 16 is great,” Moore said. “But we want more — we want to make it to state.”

Lady Roo senior point guard Tia Harston played her usual rock-solid, superb game. She hit two first-quarter treys, scored nine points, grabbed five boards and made certain Richardson’s full-court press was totally ineffective.

“We showed which team is tougher tonight,” Harston said. “Killeen.”

Killeen’s two reserve junior guards, defensive specialists Alexus Scharkley and Abigail Green, drained Richardson with their perpetual swarming of the Lady Raiders’ guards.

“Once again, Alexus and Abigail were the catalyst,” Williams said. “They brought it. They were the first two kids I went to after the game to congratulate.”

Killeen junior guard Shianne Johnson came through with 11 points on four field goals. Johnson defied the laws of gravity with some of her super-sweet moves to the hoop.

“I’m honestly speechless,” Williams said. “I was a little nervous. And then our girls upped the defense in the fourth quarter. They said, ‘Not tonight. We’re not losing.’ And they turned it on. They were amazing.”

On Friday, Killeen will play its regional semifinal contest in Dallas.

Latisha Williams was a freshman at Killeen when the 1992 Lady Roos made it to the Sweet 16.

“Well,” said Williams, “in 1992, we had a very special team. And so is this Killeen team of ours right now. I am incredibly proud of this team and what they accomplished tonight.”