The Early Longhorns doubled the number of games they’ve played this season during Friday’s first day of the Underwood’s Christmas Classic, but their first victory remained out of reach.
Early slipped to 0-4 with losses of 44-40 to Sweetwater and 61-52 to Goldthwaite.
The Longhorns’ previous two games were a non-district loss to Eastland, which preceded a 55-41 defeat in the District 6-2A opener against Grape Creek on Dec. 21.
“We’re playing hard, but we’ve struggled a little bit and a lot of that has to do with us not being in the gym,” said Early head coach Casey Dacus. “This tournament is going to be a positive for us because we need some games.”
In their loss to Sweetwater, the Longhorns erased a 12-point first-half deficit, 25-13, and actually took the lead in the fourth period.
Addison Ebarb’s bucket with 5:47 left pushed Early in front, 37-36, but Sweetwater responded with six straight points to regain a 42-37 advantage with 20 seconds left.
“Some shots just aren’t falling for us,” Dacus said. “Hopefully the lid will come off (the basket) soon.”
A put back by Zach Birdwell gave Sweetwater a 37-36 lead, then Kaleb Hopson, who tallied a team-high 13 points, pulled the Longhorns even at 37-all with a free throw with 2:45 left.
Thomas Holsey, who scored 15 points to pace Sweetwater, answered with a traditional three-play and two additional free throws to give the Mustangs their five-point lead.
Sean Aly chipped in 11 points for Early, while Ebarb and Seth Coolbaugh finished with five points each.
Three Longhorns finished in double figures in their 61-52 loss to Goldthwaite Friday night, but that wasn’t enough to get Early into the win column.
Hopson led the way with 16 points, followed by 11 from Ebarb and 10 from Thomas Aly.
Coolbaugh chipped in five points, while two points were scored by Chandler Childs, Karlton Keesee, Cameron King and Sean Aly.
Today, the Longhorns will face Dublin at noon at the Brownwood Coliseum, then challenge Brady at 6:30 p.m. at Brownwood High.