The version of the Brownwood Lady Lions that head coach Heather Hohertz hoped to see made their presence felt during the District 6-4A girls basketball opener Friday night at Warren Gym.
On the heels of a 16-point home win over Class 5A No. 15 San Angelo Lake View, the No. 24 Lady Lions kept their momentum rolling with a 51-39 triumph over archival and 11th-ranked Stephenville — the team which ended Brownwood’s postseason run in the third round a season ago.
“It was a wild one, but a good one,” Hohertz said. “I wasn’t sure which team was going to show up tonight. We had one of our worst practices of the entire season Thursday and this team has been on a roller coaster all year long. But before the game when I went into the locker room I could tell they were focused and ready to go. From the opening tip they fought and played with heart and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The tide flowed in the Lady Lions’ favor in the second half as, down 19-16 at halftime, Brownwood (13-7, 1-0) outscored Stephenville (15-8, 0-1) 17-5 in third quarter. The Lady Lions pieced together 13 unanswered points over a 7:32 stretch during the second half, turning a 24-22 deficit into a 35-24 advantage with only 6:16 left in the contest.
“One of our weaknesses has been not being able to score, but our defense led to some offensive buckets and it really helped us,” Hohertz said. “We struggled a little bit this year with our defense because we tend to watch and we don’t stay active. I thought our defense looked probably the best it has all season tonight.”
The Lady Lions’ 2-3 matchup zone virtually neutralized any inside game for Stephenville throughout the contest. The Honeybees drained five three-pointers and converted 6 of 12 free throws — all coming in the fourth period — while sinking just nine shots inside the three-point arc all night.
Brownwood started its surge and pulled even at 24 with 4:19 left in third period on a bucket by Trejouir Wilson, who led the Lady Lions in scoring for the 20th consecutive game with 24 points.
Tyanne Stewart, who contributed eight points off the bench, knocked down a three-pointer for Brownwood — which shot 4 of 11 from beyond the perimeter — to put the Lady Lions in front for good, 27-24, with 3:24 remaining in the third.
Unique Jefferson — who finished in double figures for the second straight game with 10 points — Kylie Ellis and Wilson rounded out the third period scoring as Brownwood took a 33-24 edge into the fourth period. Wilson scored again 1:44 into the fourth quarter for the final points of the surge.
With 5:04 remaining and Brownwood in front 38-28, only two free throws had been attempted in the contest — both by the Lady Lions. Stephenville shot a dozen before the game ended and Brownwood went 7 of 8 from the charity stripe down the stretch — with all the attempts by Wilson — to keep the Honeybees at arm’s length.
“Trejouir has shown up all season long,” Hohertz said. “She’s a great player and great players come through in big situations. She took care of the ball when she needed to and she got to the free throw line and knocked down her free throws.”
Brownwood scored the first six points of the second half — two by Wilson and four by Jefferson — to grab a 22-19 lead just 56 seconds into the third quarter.
“On Tuesday, Unique had one of her best games of the entire season and I was hoping that would carry over into district play,” Hohertz said. “I told her that if you engage early you’re going to score and be successful. I just try to stay after her about being active and not watching. She did what she needed to do and helped Trejouir out.”
Stephenville responded with five straight points to regain a 24-22 lead with 5:29 left in the third period, but Brownwood controlled the remainder of the contest.
Kodi Ribble chipped in five points off the bench for Brownwood while Ellis added four.
Scoring for Stephenville were Bayleigh Chaviers with 11 points, Lariat Larner with eight, Breanna Wooley and Cassidy Cline with six points apiece, Lyndi Graham with four, Kalli Smith with three and Ali Thorpe with one point.
The Lady Lions will attempt to extend their win streak to three games as they visit Mineral Wells at 6 p.m. Tuesday in their second District 6-4A tilt.