No. 16 Brownwood can clinch first outright championship Friday at Big Spring

The No. 16 Brownwood Lady Lions secured a share of their second district championship in eight seasons under head coach Heather Hohertz, and are knocking on the door of their first outright title following Friday night’s 52-36 victory over the Sweetwater Lady Mustangs in 5-4A action at Warren Gym.

With a win either Friday at Big Spring or at home against Snyder Feb. 7 in the regular season finale, the Lady Lions — who have already locked up the No. 1 playoff seed — will claim the 5-4A title all by themselves for the first time in program history.

“I’m so proud of these girls,” Hohertz said. “At the first of the year I really didn’t know what to expect and now they can clinch the first outright district title in program history. I’m also proud the girls had the support from our crowd that they did tonight. It shows how far this program has come in eight years.”

Trailing 21-19 at halftime, the Lady Lions (21-8, 6-0) — who won the first meeting between the two teams, 35-34, on a free throw with two seconds left — opened the second half with a 22-4 run, limiting Sweetwater (16-12, 2-3) to one field goal and a pair of free throws the initial 11:39 after intermission.

Lady Mustang Baylie Lindsay, who led all scorers with 23 points, accounted for 15 points in the first half, but was scoreless for the first 13:51 of the 16-minute second half.

“She is their go-to girl and we have to know where she is at all times,” Hohertz said. “In the first half she was driving and we weren’t doing a good job with our close outs. She’s pretty quick and got around us and we didn’t good a job sealing. But in the second half we made sure we were there every time she got the ball.”

Sage Cupps led the Lady Lions with 20 points, despite foul trouble, as she poured in a dozen points in the first half. Mallory Garcia added 11 points — all in the second half — while Tyanne Stewart scored eight off the bench. Ryleigh Dalleh finished with five points while Taytum Sutton and Daisy Green chipped in four points apiece.

“Mallory had a rough first half like she did at Sweetwater, but she was able to find her shot in the second half,” Hohertz said. “Sage stepped up and made some big shots all night and Tyanne was a lot stronger on the block as far as rebounding and going up. She tried to create fouls and score and was huge off the bench for us.”

Tied at 10 after one quarter, the Lady Lions trailed by a 19-13 count with 4:08 left in the first half, but closed the gap to a bucket by halftime. For the second game in a row, Brownwood went the entire first half without converting a two-point field goal, sinking four three-pointers and four free throws.

“(Sweetwater) Coach (Rusty) Rainbolt had his team ready from the start of the game,” Hohertz said. “They did such a good job in the first half of making us go faster than we wanted to. We weren’t able to set up our offense and it really took us out of zone.”

The Lady Lions’ barrage of three-pointers continued to start the second half as Garcia’s first bucket closed the gap to 23-22 at 7:25, then Dalleh put Brownwood up for good, 25-23, on a trey at the 3:50 juncture. A free throw from Cupps and a bucket by Stewart upped Brownwood’s lead to 28-23 at 2:02. Following a free throw by Sweetwater, the Lady Lions tallied the final five points of the quarter — a trey by Garcia and free throws from Stewart and Green — to carry a 33-24 edge into the fourth period.

The final stanza began with another three-pointer from Garcia, as Brownwood’s lead reached double figures, 36-24, with 7:26 remaining. The Lady Lions’ lead peaked at 17 points, 45-28, on a trey by Cupps with 3:31 remaining.

Sweetwater responded with an 8-0 run, sparked by full court pressure, to close the gap to 45-36 with 1:42 remaining, but got no closer as Brownwood ended the game with the final seven points.