No. 15 Brownwood to likely face No. 2 Glen Rose Friday in Dublin
ANSON — There was nothing easy about the Brownwood Lady Lions' 200th victory under ninth-year head coach Heather Hohertz. Considering Monday night's 42-35 win over the Wichita Falls Hirschi Lady Huskies resulted in the No. 15 Lady Lions' seventh bi-district championship of her tenure, Hohertz expected no less.
“I take my hat off to Hirschi,” said Hohertz, whose career record now stands at 200-88. “They came in and played extremely hard and gave us a tough challenge from the start of the game to the end of the game. But it says something about our girls that they figured out a way to win. It wasn't the prettiest, it wasn't the best of wins, but right now it's the greatest win because we're still alive and still moving on in the playoffs.”
The Lady Lions (29-5) used a 16-0 run at the end of the first half and start of the second to build a 12-point lead, then held off a late charge by Hirschi (14-15) to advance to the second round. All of Brownwood's postseason appearances and victories have occurred since Hohertz took over the program.
“It's pretty special to say I've been here nine years and all 200 wins have been with this program we've built,” Hohertz said. “It says something to the community and administrators for me to be able to be here this long and for what we've been able to build here. But it's not about me, 200's just a number, it's about the teams I've coached and the effort the girls play with year in and year out. This team's no different, and I'm glad I got to get there with this team because I've really grown fond of them. They find ways to win even if they're not having a good night.”
In Monday's victory over Hirschi, post Kenya Barnes tallied a season-high 16 points to shoulder the load for the Lady Lions. Normally a three-point machine, Brownwood converted just two three-pointers — one in each half — against Hirschi and had to modify its offensive attack.
“Kenya played extremely well and big for us,” Hohertz said. “She had 16 points and she rebounded well. She really stepped up when we needed her to step up.”
Mallory Garcia chipped in 10 points, Sage Cupps finished with eight, Taytum Sutton and Ryleigh Dalleh each drained a three-pointer and Mya Wallace sank a bucket.
For Hirschi, Jania Vinson and Patience Murphy led the way with seven points apiece followed by Tionte Smith and Skyy Lee with five, Imani Pollard with four, Tanya Brown with three and Michinshi Montoya and Tystevia Vaugn with two each.
The Lady Lions were down 11-8 after one quarter and trailed 18-14 with 1:54 left in the half after a three-pointer by Vinson — but that's where the game changed.
Brownwood answered just 13 seconds later on a trey by Dalleh — the first of the game for the Lady Lions — which ignited the surge. With 1:12 to go, Garcia was fouled while driving the lane and sank two free throws to put Brownwood up 19-18 — its first lead since the closing minute of the first period. Barnes added one more free throw with 39 seconds to go as Brownwood carried a 20-18 lead into the break.
The third period began with the Lady Lions chalking up seven points in 2:05, aided by six quick Hirschi turnovers, as Brownwood stretched its advantage to 27-18, which forced a timeout. Buckets by Garcia, Barnes and Cupps, along with a free throw by Barnes, extended the lead to seven.
Then, out of the timeout, Sutton buried a three-pointer at 4:46 to cap the string of 16 straight points as Brownwood's lead stood at 30-18.
Hirschi refused to go away, however, as after going 5:49 without a point the Lady Huskies closed the gap to 32-26 at the end of the third period.
A traditional three-point play following on offensive rebound by Pollard allowed Hirschi to creep within 32-29 just 14 seconds into the fourth period.
The full court pressure that frustrated the Lady Lions throughout most of the first half began to again gnaw away at Brownwood as the second half progressed. A bucket by Garcia at 7:27 pushed the Lady Lions' lead back to two possessions, 34-29, but three Hirschi free throws reduced the cushion to 34-32 with 5:25 to go.
A layup from Cupps extended Brownwood's lead to 36-32, but a Smith free throw brought Hirschi within a trey, 36-33, with 3:11 left.
Sutton had to leave the game with 2:14 remaining after banging her kneecap on the floor, and it appeared as though the momentum was slipping through the Lady Lions' fingertips. But back-to-back drives by Dalleh, in which she dished to Barnes for buckets in the paint at 2:27 and 2:02, abruptly swung the tide back in Brownwood's favor, 40-33.
Cupps added an insurance layup with 51 seconds left, while Hirschi could only muster a bucket before the final buzzer as Brownwood pitched a near shutout for the final 3:11 of the contest.
“I'm really proud of the kids for finding a way to win and at this point it's all about finding ways to win,” Hohertz said.
Next up for the Lady Lions will likely be No. 2 Glen Rose (31-1) Friday night in Dublin.
“We're going to have to play better against Glen Rose, grind it out, gut it up and figure out a way to continue this stretch,” Hohertz said. “I believe in them. They're a pretty special group and they can figure it out and step up to the challenge.”
Other girls bi-district scores
(No information reported)
• Eula 72, Brookesmith 31
• Colorado City 55, Early 18