The Brownwood Lions have yet to find the hot hand at Warren Gym, as Friday night the Abilene Cooper Cougars handed head coach Charles Pattillo’s troops their second straight home setback, 54-39. The loss was also the fourth in a row overall for Brownwood (3-8).

Graylon Brown, who did not play in Tuesday’s 61-49 loss to San Angelo Lake View, led the Lions with 17 points – including Brownwood’s first nine points over the opening 3:29. At that point, the Lions owned a four-point advantage.

The rest of the Lions, however, combined for just 23 points, while the team mustered only 30 points over the final 28:31 of the contest.

“The offensive end is our Achilles’ heel right now,” Pattillo said. “Defensively, when you get beat by 15 points you think maybe you’re not playing the best defense you can. But defensively we’re not just terrible. We just have to be smarter on offense, be patient and look for better shots. We have a lot of work to do yet.”

Leading 9-5 following Brown’s barrage of points, the Lions then went scoreless for a 4:24 stretch, not finding the cylinder again until a bucket by Marquos Barnes with seven seconds left in the quarter. By that time, Cooper had reeled off seven straight points, and took a 12-11 lead – an advantage it would not relinquish – into the second period.

Quick starts by Cooper over the final three periods allowed the Cougars to gradually stretch their lead. Cooper scored the first four points of the second quarter to grab a 16-11 lead. With the score at 21-17, the Cougars reeled off another five-point spurt before Chris Cotton banked in a three-pointer for the Lions to cut the halftime deficit to 26-20.

The second half began with Michael Brady – who scored a game-high 20 points for Cooper – draining a pair of free throws as a technical foul was called against the Lions at the end of the first half.

Cooper followed with the first two buckets of the second half to open its first double-digit edge, 32-20, just 63 seconds into the third period.

A pair of free throws from Greg Jefferson, who contributed nine points to the Lions’ tally, trimmed the deficit to eight points, 32-24, with 5:31 left in third quarter – the last time Brownwood trailed by fewer than 10 points.

Cooper’s third-quarter lead peaked at 17 points, 43-26, on a three-pointer by Brady with 55 seconds left in the period.

In the fourth quarter, Cooper’s cushion reached 19 points twice before the Lions closed the final gap to 15 points.

Despite the Lions’ offensive struggles, the team has continued to fight until the bitter end, which has pleased Pattillo.

“They’re playing hard and their attitude is good, but they need to stroke some shots every once in a while to perk them up a little bit,” Pattillo said. “Generally speaking they play hard and I expect us to get better. I’ve told them these games matter, but not as much as those last 10. That’s when we want to be at our strongest.”

Following the 26 combined points from Brown and Jefferson, Cotton tallied six points, Derek Longoria added four, Barnes finished with two points and Michael Ballejo sank a free throw.

The Lions will be back in action on Monday, Dec. 28 when they host the two-day Underwood’s Christmas Classic on the high school campus.