Trailing by six to start the fourth quarter, the Brownwood Lions scored 13 unanswered points to seize control of their 54-48 victory over the Clyde Bulldogs in Monday’s home opener at Warren Gym.
After edging Class 4A Marble Falls, 48-45, in overtime Friday night, the Lions again survived a nail-biter, this time against the 11th-ranked team in Class 3A.
“Any time you win close games that gives you confidence because you’re going to have to win close games in district,” said Lions head coach Shane Perkins. “You have to give Clyde credit. They’re ranked 11th in the state, they have two all-region players from last year and four starters back. They’re a pretty good ball club.”
Rashad Deal led the Lions (2-0) with 13 points, followed by 10 from Parker Taylor nine from Kenny Vaccaro and seven each from Ike Huestis and Kevin Cunningham.
Clyde (0-2) received 11 points from Taylor Wansom, nine from Johnny Holland and eight points each from Jeffrey Holland and P.J. Martinez.
Brownwood scored just seven points in the third period to fall behind 40-34, but the Lions responded with a 13-0 run over the first 4:16 of the fourth quarter.
“We challenged our guys in the fourth quarter to come out and get up and guard them and don’t worry about anything else,” Perkins said. “There in the third quarter we came out flat and were backing off them. We were frustrated because we were missing shots on offense, then we quit playing defense.”
Taylor opened the scoring in the fourth period by converting a traditional three-point play. At the 6:06 mark, Taylor — who scored nine of his 10 points in the final stanza — added a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to a single point, 40-39.
Deal then took advantage of a steal and scored the go-ahead layup with 5:31 left in the contest. Deal and Taylor added free throws before Huestis put the Lions in front 47-40 with a three-pointer at the 4:11 juncture.
“Defensively, we went to our pressure match up defense and that bothered them,” Perkins said. “Against our three-quarter press they started throwing it out of bounds and that started wearing on them. When they did get it across, we had everybody covered up and they weren’t going to get any open looks.
“We just have to reward ourselves for our good defense by scoring on offense. There were glimpses of it tonight. I think we’re going to be pretty good on offense, we just have to put it all together and get some people clicking.”
The Lions maintained a four-point lead or larger throughout the remainder of the final period until Wansom drained a three-pointer to shave Brownwood’s lead to 50-48 with 14 seconds left.
Vaccaro converted a pair of free throws with 13 seconds left to give Brownwood a two-possession edge, 52-48, then Huestis sank two more with one second remaining for the final six point margin.
“We have to get the kids to realize that when there’s a couple minutes left, you can’t play like it’s the first quarter,” Perkins said. “If you shoot and it goes in great, but that’s not always the best thing to do. We’re still a little young and we have to learn, but we made plays down the stretch in both of these first two games.”
The Lions will visit Abilene Wylie at 8 p.m. tonight.