HAMILTON — During their last four outings, points had been piling up for the Brownwood Lady Lions. Tuesday night, however, it was fouls that mounted as the most successful season in program history came to an end.
The Lady Lions fell to Stephenville for the season time this season, dropping a 47-36 decision in the Region I-3A quarterfinal round of the playoffs.
Generating 72 points per game on average over the last four, the Lady Lions mustered just half that total in the third round of the playoffs. Brownwood was also hindered by foul trouble as leading scorers Keeta Vaccaro and Trejouir Wilson were among three Lady Lions who fouled out. No Stephenville players were disqualified from the game.
“We were a little wound up and I don’t think we ever settled down,” said Lady Lions head coach Hohertz said. “Stephenville did a good job of taking us out of what we wanted to do, but we missed a ton of easy shots and a ton of free throws. We also went back to having just one person who could score and that’s not what has made us successful. It just wasn’t in our favor tonight.”
Stephenville (21-12) will move on to face No. 3 Abilene Wylie in the state semifinals Friday at Texas Tech’s United Spirit Arena.
The Lady Lions (24-7), meanwhile, earned their first district and area championships, and claimed a fourth bi-district crown in five seasons under Hohertz.
“We don’t have anything to hang our heads about,” Hohertz said. “We accomplished a lot of firsts in the program. This is a stepping stone and we have to learn to get better and handle the environment and keep moving forward from here.”
Though the Lady Lions struggled offensively the duration of the contest, Brownwood’s defense kept the game within reach.
The turning point occurred with 3:30 left in the game and the Lady Lions down five. Brownwood leading scorer Keeta Vaccaro — the all-time leading scorer in program history — drove and apparently scored to close the gap to 38-35 with a free throw on the way.
However, Vaccaro instead was whistled for a charging foul — her fifth of the game — as she joined Wilson, who fouled out 22 seconds into the fourth period, and Vici Henry, who was disqualified with 6:14 left, as spectators on the bench the remainder of the night.
“We had some tough breaks and some things didn’t go our way,” Hohertz said. “The charge under the basket that was called on Keeta was very questionable, but it is what it is.”
Vaccaro finished with 18 points for the Lady Lions trailed by four from Unique Jefferson, three each from Wilson, Alyson Finnigan, Ashley Vaccaro and Sarah Fox and two points from Henry.
Stephenville received 17 points from Cassidy Cline and 14 points from Tiara Green.
The Lady Lions also finished with just 28 rebounds, and their inability to turn away Stephenville second chances in the first half resulted in Brownwood playing catch up during the opening 16 minutes.
Trailing by seven points with 6:31 left before halftime, the Lady Lions pieced together 12 of the next 17 points. A three-pointer by Keeta Vaccaro at the 1:15 mark of the second period allowed Brownwood to draw even at 22-all.
Stephenville responded with a deuce and a trey in the closing 75 seconds of the half, while the Lady Lions managed only a free throw and trailed 27-23 at the break.
In the third period, Brownwood yielded just five points, but produced only three and was in a 32-26 hole when the fourth quarter began.
The Lady Lions closed to within four points, 35-31, with 5:49 remaining, but got no closer down the stretch.