Bulletin Staff Report
SNYDER — Marquos Barnes scored on an offensive putback with 33 seconds remaining, and Graylon Brown and Michael Ballejo teamed up to record a crucial steal with six seconds left as the Brownwood Lions outlasted the Levelland Lobos, 58-57, to earn their second straight bi-district championship Wednesday night at the Scurry County Coliseum.
“I’m really proud of the way they held on at the end and did what they had to do,” said Lions head coach Charles Pattillo. “We got a big steal there at the end and finally got some rebounds there late.”
The Lions (13-14) — winners of 10 of their last 13 contests — will face District 3-3A champion and 20th-ranked Seminole (25-5) — a winner of 15 in a row — at 8 p.m. Friday in Merkel in Region I-3A area playoff action.
Trailing 57-55 with 33 seconds remaining, Brown was fouled and converted his first free throw attempt for Brownwood. Brown then missed the second try, but Barnes grabbed the offensive board and scored in the paint to give the Lions the decisive points.
“That was a great putback,” Pattillo said. “We visited with Marquos a little about the fact that he didn’t have any rebounds at halftime, but he got the one that counted.”
Levelland (13-17) failed to score on its ensuing possession and Derek Longoria pulled down the rebound for the Lions. The Lobos had three fouls to give, which allowed the Lions to easily burn time off the clock. Just when it appeared that Brownwood was headed to the free throw line, Brown was whistled after falling out of bounds following a collision with a Levelland player, which turned the ball over to the Lobos.
On the inbounds play, however, Brown and Ballejo blanketed Levelland’s Cameron Price — who led all scorers with 24 points — and created a turnover which denied the Lobos a chance at the last-second field goal attempt.
“I thought Graylon got fouled pretty hard, but then he and Michael kind of bumped that guy at mid-court,” Pattillo said. “They had him covered up.”
Brown finished with a team-high 20 points for the Lions, with 14 coming in the second half. Greg Jefferson added 15 points, Barnes finished with 12 and Longoria and Ballejo chipped in six and five points, respectively.
Price and Beau Durham — who poured in 16 points — accounted for most of Levelland’s offense, with four points each coming from Dakota Arant and Omar Gonzales, Preston Woodard added three points and Rusty Fuentes finished with two points.
The Lions trailed 53-50 until Brown sank his third three-pointer to even the score with 3:15 left. Longoria followed with a bucket to push the Lions in front, 55-53, with 2:30 left in the game, but Price and Gonzales scored the next four points to give Levelland a 57-55 edge with 43 seconds left.
Sparked by three straight three-pointers from Price, Levelland grabbed a 13-4 first-quarter lead that grew to 24-12 with three minutes left in the first half. The Lions responded with the final 12 points of the half to draw even at intermission, and capped a 25-4 run with 13 of the first 17 points in the second half to establish a 37-28 advantage.
Levelland stormed back and evened the score at 43-all early in the fourth period, but Ballejo answered with a trey that pushed Brownwood back in front, 46-43. The Lobos scored 10 of the next 14 points to grab their 53-50 advantage.