The Brownwood Lions went cold from up close, while the Dublin Lions heated up from long range which proved to be the difference as head coach Nadir Dalleh’s squad fell for just the second time in 10 games, 72-65, Thursday night at Warren Gym.
Brownwood (15-6) converted 8 of 12 free throws in the third period, but attempted just two — making both — in the final quarter. Dublin, meanwhile, drained six three-pointers in the second half, turning a slim two-point deficit at the break into a victory.
“We got into the bonus in the third quarter and then Dublin only had one foul in the fourth and that’s our fault,” Dalleh said. “We should have taken it at them, got to the free throw line and finished it off there. We did it to ourselves.
“And I don’t know how many layups we missed. Anything around the basket you have to make to win a game we missed. You look and we lost by seven and we could have won by 17. Missed layups and opportunities to get to the free throw line was the difference.”
Zach Strong scored 15 points to lead the way for Brownwood, trailed by 13 each from Sean Yoder and A.J. McCarty, nine from Xavier Porter, five from Tommy Bowden, four from Gavon Clemons, three from Isyah Campos and two points from Blake Bronniman.
For Dublin (14-5), 6-foot-4 senior Rayce Jackson tallied a game-high 25 points, with 17 coming in the second half, followed by Tyshon Hopkins with 13 and Josh Haynes and Jeremiah Martinez with 11 points apiece.
“Dublin’s a good shooting team, no doubt, and we knew that going in,” Dalleh said. “That’s their reputation and what they want you to do is take a bad shot down here so they can go down there and make a three-pointer.
“Defensively we played well but when (Jackson) gets hot, it’s hard to guard him at 6-4. It’s hard to block that shot or even get a hand up. We still have some things to fix, but we’re getting there. We did a heck of a lot better than we did the first time.”
The Lions fell to Dublin, 68-54, on Dec. 7 at the Hamilton tournament in the first meeting between the two teams.
Brownwood started strong Thursday night, carrying a 21-15 lead into the second period. Trailing 13-12, Strong sank a pair of free throws that pushed the Lions in front and triggered a 9-2 spurt to close the quarter. Bowden drained a three-pointer and added another bucket, while Clemons scored as well during the run.
In the second period, the Lions pushed the lead to 29-22 following a deuce by Yoder, but Dublin responded with nine points in a row to grab a 31-29 edge at the 2:54 mark. Brownwood stopped the bleeding, however, and regained a 35-33 halftime lead when Porter scored with 28 seconds remaining.
After a free throw from Yoder opened the second-half scoring, Jackson followed with consecutive treys to give Dublin a 39-36 edge — and the Lions were in catch-up mode the rest of the way.
Strong tallied the next three points for Brownwood to even the score at 39, but Dublin racked up six of the next eight to open a 47-41 lead it never relinquished.
Brownwood trailed 55-50 heading to the fourth period and fell into a double-digit hole, 62-52, with 4:50 left. The Lions closed the gap to 67-63 with 2:05 left on a bucket by McCarty, but Dublin scored five of the last seven points to secure the victory.
The Lions will travel to Brady at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in their final contest before opening District 5-4A competition.