HAMILTON — A season that included the first outright district championship for the Brownwood Lady Lions came to an end Friday night in the Region I-4A area round of the playoffs.
In a rematch of last year’s Region I-4A quarterfinal contest, won by Brownwood, 48-42, the Stephenville Honeybees exacted a measure of revenge with a 51-31 second-round victory.
Throughout the week there was plenty of excitement going into Friday’s matchup from each team. After all, not only are both teams longtime rivals in every sport, but the game was one of the most anticipated in the Lone Star State for this weekend as Stephenville was ranked No. 10 and Brownwood No. 15 in the latest state rankings. Of course there was also the fact that both teams had put together incredible seasons leading up to the game as well, with each team winning their district outright, along with Brownwood posting a 24-8 record and Stephenville going 25-7.
It seemed like the teams were evenly matched and most everyone expected a close and very competitive game.
Things weren’t exactly what they seemed, however.
Once Stephenville got going, they never stopped, outscoring the Lady Lions every quarter, while sometimes doubling the points Brownwood put up in each one. The Honeybees out-rebounded the Lady Lions by a large margin as well, and played solid defense that held Brownwood to a maximum of nine points per quarter.
The Lady Lions had an off night all around it appeared, with constant miscues, missed shots and getting into foul trouble from the start.
The game started rather slow and Stephenville only lead 5-2 more than halfway through the first quarter. That was never the case again for the rest of the night though, as the Honeybees heated up in a hurry. They rattled off seven unanswered points Brownwood answered back with a three pointer of their own by junior Sage Cupps, making the score 12-5 with just under three minutes left in the first.
The Honeybees then scored four more, while Brownwood’s only points for the rest of the quarter came off a jump shot from sophomore point guard Mallory Garcia.
As the second quarter progressed, momentum looked like it might swing Brownwood’s way. Sophomore Ryleigh Dalleh drained a two-point shot in the opening seconds, before Stephenville answered right back with two of their own. With 5:45 remaining in the half, senior Tyanne Stewart added another two points, followed by her doing the same again two minutes later to cut the Honeybees’ lead down 16-13.
That was the closest the game would be for the rest of the night.
Stephenville added five more, with three of those coming at the foul line, and Brownwood only scored one more point before the end of the second quarter.
The second half opened with the Honeybees leading 21-14 and the first two minutes resembling a back-and-forth tennis match.
Brownwood got the ball to start the half and they took advantage of that, scoring two points in the first minute. Stephenville answered right back just seconds later adding two of their own, and then Brownwood again did the same within 30 seconds of their opponent’s last score.
Yet again the game looked like it might be a close one, but, yet again, Stephenville got hot in a hurry. The Honeybees never looked back, draining two back-to-back three pointers in less than 45 seconds, then added four points from under the basket, widening the score in their favor, 33-23.
The Lady Lions only other points in the third quarter came from junior point guard Daisy Green with 1:10 left, which would be the last from both teams as the time wound down.
The start of the fourth quarter saw Taytum Sutton immediately going to the foul line and being successful on both shots, making it 33-25.
As was the story of the night, however, Stephenville once again got hot, going on an 11-point run that was helped by two success three point shots.
To make things worse for Brownwood, Garcia — the second-leading scorer — fouled out with just four minutes left in the ball game.
The four minute scoring drought for the Lady Lions finally came to an end shortly after.Cupps hit her second three point shot of the night, which brough the score to 44-28 with 3:55 remaining.
From there the Honeybees simply began to run the clock out and the last few minutes saw them go to the foul line a handful of times, adding seven more points off of free throws.
The final score from Brownwood on the night came with just six seconds left in the ballgame, as Cupps made her third and final three point shot.
The end result was Brownwood heading home, while their archrival advances to the state quarterfinals to take on Glen Rose.
With the numerous problems that the Lady Lions faced throughout the night, and with Stephenville having one of their best nights of the season, Brownwood head coach Heather Hohertz wasn’t surprised at the outcome.
“They came in and shot the ball really well,” said Hohertz. “We can’t say the same. We didn’t move very well on defense and we didn’t move very well on offense. Of course when you don’t shoot well, it’s hard to win. It seemed like we reverted back to our old ways and we didn’t play aggressive from the start to the end.”
Cupps led Brownwood with 14 points followed by Garcia with five, Stewart with four, and Sutton, Smith, Dalleh and Green with two points apiece.