SWEETWATER — Junior point guard Mallory Garcia eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in her career with a 32-point effort, and the No. 15 Brownwood Lady Lions secured their ninth consecutive postseason berth with a 62-44 victory over the Sweetwater Lady Mustangs Friday night.
The Lady Lions (26-5, 4-2) drained 13 three-pointers, including seven in the first period alone, and the defense yielded just 15 second-half points after taking a 33-29 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“We came out at the start of the game and were burying deep three-pointers, and at halftime I told them it was a good thing we were making threes because we weren't playing defense and we couldn't make a layup,” said Lady Lions head coach Heather Hohertz. “I told them we were flat-footed and that we had to stay active. But our defense showed up in the second half and really turned it on.”
The Lady Lions defeated Sweetwater (8-19, 1-4 in district) by a 73-62 count in the first meeting between the two squads at Warren Gym on Jan. 9, as Brownwood yielded its most points since falling to Greenwood in the 2016 Region I-4A tournament.
“We tried to do a box and one so Tavis Black didn't kill us this game (24 points in first meeting) and we didn't adjust well to our assignments,” Hohertz said. “We came out in the second half and the difference was we stayed active. I thought we really put the game away in the third quarter. I told them we've been conditioning since August and even if you're tired you have to suck it up and finish the game.”
The Lady Lions jumped out to a 15-1 lead midway through the first period on five three-pointers — three by Garcia and two by Taytum Sutton, who finished with 11 points.
Leading 21-7 after the seventh trey of the quarter — this one by Sage Cupps, who poured in 15 points — the Lady Lions' advantage was trimmed to 23-15 at the end of the first period.
Sweetwater got as close as 27-24 in the second period before a pair of treys from Garcia established some breathing room.
In the third period, the Lady Lions gradually stretched the lead to double figures as a Garcia three-pointer made the score, 44-34. Later in the quarter, back-to-back treys from Sutton and Cupps pushed the lead to 51-37, and the Lady Lions took a 54-39 edge into the fourth period.
The Lady Lions' advantage peaked at 20 points, 59-39, on the final point from Garcia, which came at the free throw line.
“We talked about it a little after practice Thursday, but I told her don't force it and don't try so hard,” Hohertz said in regard to Garcia, who needed seven points to reach 1,000. “She just came out on fire tonight and was hitting shots from Roby. She's a special player, she's been on varsity since she was a freshman and this is just a tribute to her game and how much work she's put in.”
Garcia also became the third Lady Lion to score at least 30 points in a game this season, joining Cupps and Ryleigh Dalleh, who missed Friday's game due to a mild concussion.
“Ryleigh hit Kenya's (Barnes) knee diving for a ball against Wylie and got the symptoms after the game was over,” Hohertz said. “She had to sit out tonight but should be good to go Friday against Big Spring.”
Daisy Green, filling in for Dalleh, chipped in four points for the Lady Lions, who are off until Friday when they host Big Spring in the home finale.