The Early Lady Horns chalked up three Saturday victories — including a 37-35 win over the Brownwood Lady Lions — to finish third in the second annual Bluebonnet Shootout, which took place at Warren Gym.
Early, which came one point away from playing for the tournament championship, rebounded from Friday’s narrow 38-37 loss to Merkel with pool wins over Cherokee and the Ballinger JV earlier Saturday.
Meanwhile, Brownwood — which knocked off Ballinger, 48-36, Friday night — posted a 1-2 Saturday record, splitting its two pool games with eventual tournament champion Jim Ned and Cisco.
The momentum flip-flopped throughout the Early-Brownwood clash, but Aubrey Horton’s bucket following an offensive rebound with 1:14 left served as the deciding points. Brownwood missed a chance to tie the game twice at the free throw with 52 and 25 seconds remaining, but could not get the shots to fall.
Horton led all scorers with 18 points, and Early also received nine points from Katie Isom, three each from Morgan Birrell and Kellie Jo Elkins and two points apiece from Brianna Childs and Charity Johnston.
Patricia Wilson led the Lady Lions with 16 points, trailed by Sara Byrd with nine, Sydnie Darden with six and Lakeeta Vaccaro and Alyson Finnigan with two points each.
Trailing 31-30, Early regained a 33-31 advantage on a 3-pointer by Isom with 5:13 remaining, then Horton scored in the paint at the 4:09 mark to extend the Lady Horns’ advantage to 35-31.
Buckets by Byrd, with 3:09 remaining, and Wilson, with 2:01 left, allowed the Lady Lions to draw even, but Brownwood did not score during the final 120 seconds.
Brownwood owned a 21-17 halftime advantage, but Early opened the second half with a 9-0 spurt to seize control, 26-21. Isom, Childs and Johnston contributed two points each, while Birrell capped the run with a 3-pointer.
The Lady Lions answered with 10 of the next 12 points to regain a 31-28 lead. Wilson scored the first two Brownwood buckets then, after a deuce by Horton, Wilson scored again to close the gap to 28-27. Byrd put the Lady Lions back in front, 29-28, with 8:57 left, then Wilson scored her eighth point of the surge to complete the run.
Isom scored at 8:11 to cut Brownwood’s lead to 31-30, then drained the 3-pointer that set up the frantic finish.
In the first half, the lead changed hands eight times, with Brownwood using a 6-0 run to open an 18-13 advantage. Wilson scored four points during the run, while Vaccaro chipped in a bucket.
Following a 3-pointer by Byrd with 18 seconds left that gave Brownwood its largest lead, 21-15, Horton scored in the paint with four seconds left in the half to cut the deficit to 21-17, and the Lady Horns carried that momentum into the start of the second half.