Brownwood seeking district title repeat, second regional tournament trip in three years

With four starters returning from last year's outright district championship squad — a first in program history — the Brownwood Lady Lions have set their sights on yet another first — a Region I-4A championship.

The Lady Lions, under ninth-year head coach Heather Hohertz, are seeking their second trip to the regional tournament in three seasons, as the 2017-18 regular season tips off at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at Warren Gym against Class 5A Granbury.

“We want to get back to Lubbock,” Hohertz said. “Our goals are very high this year. One, we want to protect our district championship and two, we want to make a deep run in Region I.”

Returning from last year's 24-9 squad, which posted an 8-0 district record, are 5-4A MVP Sage Cupps, who averaged 12 points, three rebounds and two steals per outing; 5-4A Offensive Player of the Year Mallory Garcia, who generated 11 points, two rebounds and three steals per game; and first-team all-district selections Ryleigh Dalleh, who averaged seven points, five rebounds and three steals per game; and Taytum Sutton, who tallied four points, six boards and a pair of steals.

“Our biggest strengths again will be hitting 3s and our defense, but we have to become a better rebounding team,” Hohertz said.

Also back for the Lady Lions is Daisy Green in the backcourt and Mya Wallace in the middle, who will be joined by varsity newcomer Kenya Barnes in the front court.

“Kenya will be a big part in the post area and in the middle of the zone,” Hohertz said. “She isn’t as tall but she is one of the strongest girls I've coached.”

Another new addition to keep an eye on is Hadley Monroe, who “will help take some relief off Mallory at the point guard,” Hohertz said. “She just got to us from volleyball so she has to get up to speed with what we've been doing.”

The Lady Lions, who opened the season with their first Midnight Madness practice on Oct. 18, scrimmaged Wall on Oct. 28 and Ballinger on Oct. 31 in preparation for the season opener.

“We had some very good spurts and good moments from the scrimmages,” Hohertz said. “Our defense looked sharp when we communicated and rotated. We weren’t very good in the blocking out areas, but our transition looked pretty good. We want to get up and down the floor this year.”

After playing Granbury, the Lady Lions' pre-district schedule includes games against Jim Ned (Nov. 10), Abilene High (Nov. 21), Hamilton (Nov. 28), Marble Falls (Dec. 5), Godley (Dec. 8), Clyde Dec. 12), Fredericksburg (Dec. 15), Bangs (Dec. 18) and Mason (Dec. 21). Brownwood will also take part in the San Saba (Nov. 16-18) and Lorena (Nov. 30-Dec. 2) tournaments, while hosting the TexasBank Holiday Classic this year, Dec. 28-30.

“We have a tough schedule early on that will test us,” Hohertz said. “I just want us to gel and continue to get better and play hard. We have to get better as a team in the rebounding area.”

District 5-4A action begins with a trip to Abilene Wylie on Jan. 5 followed by a home date with Sweetwater (Jan. 9), a road trip to Big Spring (Jan. 15) and a visit from Snyder (Jan. 19) to wrap up the first half. The second half begins at home against Wylie (Jan. 23) followed a trip to Sweetwater (Jan. 26), the home finale with Big Spring (Feb. 2) and the regular-season finale at Snyder (Feb. 6).

“The key to a repeat is playing at our highest level,” Hohertz said. “We have to open district up going to Wylie. We have to be playing consistent and our offense and defense has to be clicking. Wylie will compete and play hard. Sweetwater has a new coach but has some pretty good players returning. Big Spring has a new coach as well and I know they will be playing hard once district starts.”

Brownwood has made the playoffs in each of Hohertz's previous eight seasons, but this group of Lady Lions possess the potential to make the deepest postseason run yet.

“I think this team can make a run for the regional championship,” Hohertz said. “We have to improve in the rebounding areas. We have continue to get better in all areas and continue to gel and grow as a team.”