Behind a career night from Ryleigh Dalleh, and a smothering defensive performance in the first half, the No. 9 Brownwood Lady Lions notched their most lopsided District 5-4A victory of the season, 69-37 over the Snyder Lady Tigers Friday night at Warren Gym.
The Lady Lions (25-4, 3-1), who reached the midway point of the district schedule, lost the league opener at Abilene Wylie, 56-29, then labored in victories of 73-62 over Sweetwater and 47-37 over Big Spring before Friday's blowout.
“It's been a real struggle since district started,” said Lady Lions head coach Heather Hohertz. “We've been in a real rut and obviously we haven't been playing very good basketball, so it's been a tough couple of weeks. We haven't shot the ball well, we haven't played very good defense. We went in Thursday and decided to change things up defensively and threw some man out there and some 1-2-2 that really got us going, and we played our 2-3 a little bit. I thought the energy on the defensive end really set the tone for tonight.”
Dalleh was coming off a three-point performance at Big Spring, but tallied 31 against Snyder (11-15, 2-3). She scored 10 points in the first period as the Lady Lions led 15-7 after one stanza, and stood at 21 points at halftime as Brownwood stretched the advantage to 34-10 at the break. Dalleh added eight more points in the third quarter as the Lady Lions established a 54-26 cushion, then eclipsed the 30-point mark with her only bucket of the fourth quarter.
“We really challenged Ryleigh and she had a big night for us,” Hohertz said. “She was really disappointed when we played Tuesday in Big Spring because she knew she had wide open shots and she only had three points. She was really frustrated and I told that she has to have a short-term memory and forget about the misses.”
The Lady Lions were also aided by the return of starting point guard Mallory Garcia, who missed the Big Spring game after suffering a concussion against Sweetwater. Garcia finished with 18 points and a played a big role on the defensive glass, particularly in the first half.
“It's always good to have Mallory on the court,” Hohertz said. “She takes care of the ball, she gets us where we need to be, but what really impressed me was she wasn't scared to go get a rebound on the defensive end. I was really proud of her for going in there and not worrying about the contact.”
Sage Cupps also finished in double figures with 10 points followed by Taytum Sutton with six, Daisy Green with two and Mya Wallace and Kenya Barnes with one free throw apiece.
The Lady Lions shot 37 percent (25 of 68) from the floor, but drained 10 three-pointers. Brownwood was also 9 of 14 from the free throw line, hauled down 42 rebounds — including 16 on the offensive end — and recorded 21 steals.
Brownwood begins the second half of district at home Tuesday night against Abilene Wylie. Any chance of a Lady Lions' district championship repeat requires a victory against the No. 12 Lady Bulldogs (20-6, 4-0) — who mauled Sweetwater (5-13, 1-3) by a 76-42 count Friday.
“It's going to be a battle and I hope we compete a little better than we did last time,” Hohertz said. “We have to give ourselves a chance and we didn't do that at all last time, from the start of the game on. I think they'll be motivated and this performance tonight got us back closer to where we need to be. We're going to have to be on our game, we're going to have to be hitting our shots and everybody's going to have to step up.”