Down by a point at halftime in their last game at Warren Gym this season, the No. 16 Brownwood Lady Lions came to life in the second half, scoring the final 18 points of the third period to spark a 58-35 victory over the Big Spring Lady Steers.
Trailing 23-22 at intermission, the Lady Lions (27-5, 5-2) scored more points in the third period — 23 — than the entire first half, while limiting Big Spring (8-16, 0-8) to five points in the quarter and 12 during the second half.
“I was really disappointed that's how we came out, but I'm really proud of how they responded after I got on them pretty hard in the locker room at halftime,” said Lady Lions head coach Heather Hohertz, who moved within two victories of 200 for her career — all at Brownwood. “The first half we were flat, no effort on defense and our shots weren't falling. We had 12 turnovers and six total rebounds in the first half, two offensive and four defensive. I contribute that to not being mentally ready, and I got after them at halftime and challenged their effort and their mental focus. It took a little bit of the third quarter, but they finally responded in a big way.”
With Big Spring leading 28-27 with 4:13 left in the third period, the Lady Lions seized control of the contest, thanks to 11 turnovers forced the remainder of the quarter. A floater in the lane by Mallory Garcia, after a Big Spring turnover, put the Lady Lions up for good, 29-28, while Sage Cupps added a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 31-28. Ryleigh Dalleh then drained one of her four three-pointers in the quarter to push the advantage to 34-28, which led to a Big Spring timeout.
Coming out of the break, Cupps added another bucket and Dalleh sank another trey as the lead increased to double digits, 39-28, at the 1:56 mark. Daisy Green, Garcia and Mya Wallace chipped in jumpers before the quarter ended as Brownwood carried a 45-28 lead into the fourth period.
The Lady Lions' advantage continued to grow in the fourth period, reaching 20 points, 55-35 with 1:22 left on a bucket by Cupps, who moved within 18 points of 1,000 for her Brownwood career. Garcia eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in the Lady Lions' last outing at Sweetwater.
Cupps finished with a game-high 22 points for the Lady Lions followed by 14 from Dalleh, seven each from Garcia and Kenya Barnes, four from Wallace and two each from Green and Hadley Monroe.
Big Spring received 12 points from Kayleigh Penny and eight points from Logan Terrazas.
The Lady Lions wrap up the regular season Tuesday night at Snyder (13-16, 4-3), where Brownwood can secure the second playoff seed from District 5-4A with a victory.
“Snyder's going to be a tough place to play,” Hohertz said. “They're playing really hard and really well right now, and have all season. We're going to have to handle the travel and be ready to play from the opening tip.”
Prior to Friday's home finale, the Lady Lions recognized their four seniors — Cupps, Green, Wallace and Taytum Sutton.
“We like to honor our seniors in a big way,” Hohertz said. “They mean a lot to the program, they have their roles, and they've done big things for us.”