Brownwood improves to 3-1 after first home win

At the end of the first period, the Brownwood Lions had mustered just a pair of field goals and found themselves in an 11-4 hole. By the end of the second quarter, however, the Lions had caught fire, using a 28-point frame to open a nine-point halftime edge en route to a 62-54 victory over the Jim Ned Indians — their first win at Warren Gym this season.

The Lions (3-1) led 32-23 at the break after a complete role reversal between the first and second periods, and stretched their lead to 19 points before Jim Ned (3-1) made a late charge.

“We started out very flat, we couldn’t hit anything and we didn’t have our legs underneath us,” said Lions second-year head coach Nadir Dalleh, whose team handed Jim Ned its first loss of the young season. “Once we got loose and got the feel of the game we were fine. We ran the floor like we’re trying to work on, we’ve only had three practices together, but we got a lot of easy transition points.”

The Lions cleaned up their play both on the glass and in terms of ball handling as well until the waning moments, which allowed Jim Ned to shave a 55-36 deficit with 4:09 left to 59-52 with just 49 seconds remaining. The Indians’ surge was sparked by Jackson Hanna, who scored 22 of his game-high 24 points in the second half.

“We cut down the second-chance points and the turnovers a little bit, but when you get tired you often times get weak minded,” Dalleh said in regard to Jim Ned’s late push.

A.J. McCarty led the Lions with 14 points followed by Blake Bronniman with 13, Zach Strong with 12 Sean Yoder with six, Xavier Porter with four, Jared Cullins and Ryan Riker with three apiece, Gavon Clemons, Jaten Reeves and Gavin Jefferson with two each and Tristin Revada with one point.

“The biggest positive from tonight is we got a win against a good team and well-coached team,” Dalleh said. “Our young guys are stepping up, playing hard and getting after it. I’m trying to throw out a lot of different combinations of players and some kids didn’t get playing time tonight but the next game they could get it. It all depends on the flow of the game. Our defense has also stepped up and I couldn’t be more proud of that.”

During the decisive second quarter, the Lions eclipsed their four-point first-quarter tally in the first 21 seconds as McCarty drained a trey, then Strong scored after a steal to quickly close the gap to 11-9.

Trailing 17-12 with 5:30 left in the half, Brownwood began an 8-0 run that resulted in its first lead. Strong recorded the first of his two dunks on an inbound pass from the baseline, then McCarty sank another three-pointer to knot the score at 17 with 4:55 to go. Bronniman pushed the Lions in front, 18-17, with a free throw at the 4:34 mark, and Yoder capped the run with a basket in the paint.

Clinging to a 22-21 lead with 3:23 left in the half, the Lions closed with 10 of the final 12 points — two each by McCarty, Strong, Yoder, Bronniman and Clemons.

Brownwood's lead hit double figures for the first time, 36-25, on an offensive putback by Porter with 4:32 left in the third period. The cushion peaked at 19 points, 55-36, on a bucket by Strong midway through the fourth.

Brownwood will next compete in the Dublin tournament beginning 8 a.m. Thursday with an opening round contest against Breckenridge.

“I want to see us playing hard and competing,” Dalleh said. “We’re going to see some pretty good teams and I’d like to see us come together as a team. We’re trying to get past some things right now and when we do that it will do a world of good for us.”