Brownwood places third at TexasBank Holiday Classic

Facing a 10-point halftime deficit, the Brownwood Lions were able to fight their way back for a 50-48 victory over the Stephenville Yellow Jackets in Saturday’s third-place game of the TexasBank Holiday Classic at the Brownwood Coliseum.

A sloppy game by both teams, the Lions were able to find a way to win a contest that in recent years usually slipped through their fingertips.

“That was not pretty. It was way more physical than I think either team wanted it to be,” said Lions second-year head coach Nadir Dalleh, whose team improved to 14-5 with the victory. “You hate getting in games like that because it’s not real clean basketball. I think both ways we could both be upset about it, but like I told the guys we may not have deserved the win because of the turnovers and the way we shot free throws, but we did win the game — we found a way to win it and that’s been a problem the last few years.”

Down 30-20 at halftime, the Lions started the second half on a 13-2 run and grabbed a short-lived 33-32 advantage on a pair of free throws by Sean Yoder at the 2:33 juncture.

Brownwood appeared to be headed into the fourth quarter tied at 35 until Clay Krause drained a deep three-pointer at the buzzer.

The Lions still trailed, 42-39, with 3:31 left, but responded with the next eight points to open a 47-42 lead with 36 seconds remaining.

A bucket by Xavier Porter brought the Lions within a point, 42-41, with 3:13 to go, then Yoder scored following an offensive rebound to push Brownwood ahead, 43-42, at the 2:19 mark.

Both offenses went silent for the next minute-plus, until a steal by A.J. McCarty led to a bucket and 45-42 Brownwood lead with 57 seconds remaining. The Lions added free throws from Yoder and Zach Strong to extend the advantage to 47-42.

Skylar Stillwell sank a three-pointer for Stephenville to trim Brownwood’s lead to 47-45 with 29 seconds left, and Yoder answered with a free throw to push the lead back to three points, 48-45.

Stephenville’s next trip down the court resulted in a missed three-pointer, a rebound by Strong and an outlet to McCarty, who was fouled. After sinking two free throws, the Lions led 50-45 with 13 seconds left.

Cole Pettit answered with a dagger with two seconds left as Brownwood’s lead shrank to 50-48. A length of the court inbounds pass sailed out of bounds, which allowed Stephenville to bring the ball in under its own goal.

The pass, however, was swatted away by McCarty as time expired.

“We changed some things up on defense,” Dalleh said in regard to the Lions’ second-half turnaround, where they yielded just 18 points. “We were playing lazy, walk around defense. It was sad that we were at that point because we hadn’t played all day and we had a chance to be rested and ready to go, but we couldn’t take advantage of that early. We fixed some things at halftime and came out and executed.”

Strong scored 14 points to pace the Lions trailed by 10 from Yoder, nine each from McCarty and Porter, three from Jared Cullins, two each from Blake Bronniman and Tommy Bowden and one point from Blaize Infinger.

The win was the seventh in eight games for the Lions, whose win streak was snapped by Denver City, 54-42, Friday night.

The Lions were plagued by 26 turnovers along with 7 of 15 shooting from the free throw line, while Denver City committed just 10 turnovers and drained 11 of 15 attempts at the charity stripe.

Trailing 34-33 at the start of the fourth period, the Lions surrendered consecutive three-pointers to Matthew Delarosa, which put Brownwood in a 40-33 hole just 40 seconds into the final stanza.

The Lions cut the deficit to 40-37 with 5:51 left on buckets by Yoder and McCarty, but Denver City responded with seven of the next eight points to stretch the advantage to 47-38 with 3:17 remaining.

Brownwood got not closer than seven points the rest of the way, the last time at 49-42 with 1:11 left on an offensive putback by Porter.

Playing without the starting point guard Bronniman, who missed the game due to an illness, the Lions started the game in a 15-4 hole and mustered just one field goal in the opening quarter — a bucket by Strong.

Trailing 15-6 heading into the second period, the Lions opened the quarter on a 13-2 run, taking a 19-17 lead with 2:39 left before halftime on a three-pointer by McCarty. Porter extended the lead to 21-17 at the 2:09 mark, but Denver City closed the half on an 8-0 run to seize a 25-21 halftime edge.

Brownwood regained its final lead, 30-28, on a bucket by Gavon Clemons with 4:06 left in the third period, but again Denver City closed strong with six of the final nine points.

McCarty and Strong tallied 14 points apiece for Brownwood, Porter added seven, Yoder chipped in four points, Clemons finished with two and Isyah Campos recorded a free throw.