Brownwood to face Stephenville in third-place game Saturday

The Brownwood Lions' six-game win streak reached its conclusion Friday night at the Brownwood Coliseum, as the Denver City Mustangs advanced to the championship game of the TexasBank Holiday Classic following a 54-42 decision.

The Lions (13-5) were plagued by 26 turnovers along with 7 of 15 shooting from the free throw line, while Denver City committed just 10 turnovers and drained 11 of 15 attempts at the charity stripe.

“We had way too many turnovers and gave them a lot of chances to score,” said Lions head coach Nadir Dalleh. “We had empty possessions where we couldn't score and then when you can't get the ball down the floor you don't get the opportunity either. We just didn't get a real rhythm going and Denver City's a good basketball team, but the turnovers were the key.”

Trailing 34-33 at the start of the fourth period, the Lions surrendered consecutive three-pointers to Matthew Delarosa, which put Brownwood in a 40-33 hole just 40 seconds into the final stanza.

“That was huge,” Dalleh said of Denver City's fourth-quarter start. “Like I said the other day, when we don't cover anybody up and give up an open shot, it's a free look and an easy shot with those two good players they have. I called a quick timeout, but we just couldn't recover from it.”

The Lions cut the deficit to 40-37 with 5:51 left on buckets by Sean Yoder and A.J. McCarty, but Denver City responded with seven of the next eight points to stretch the advantage to 47-38 with 3:17 remaining.

Brownwood got not closer than seven points the rest of the way, the last time at 49-42 with 1:11 left on an offensive putback by Xavier Porter.

Playing without starting point guard Blake Bronniman, the Lions started the game in a 15-4 hole and mustered just one field goal in the opening quarter — a bucket by Zach Strong.

Trailing 15-6 heading into the second period, the Lions opened the quarter on a 13-2 run, taking a 19-17 lead with 2:39 left before halftime on a three-pointer by McCarty. Porter extended the lead to 21-17 at the 2:09 mark, but Denver City closed the half on an 8-0 run to seize a 25-21 halftime edge.

Brownwood regained its final lead, 30-28, on a bucket by Clemons with 4:06 left in the third period, but again Denver City closed strong with six of the final nine points.

“Blake got sick before the game and we sent him home, so we had three sophomores starting and there were some nerves there,” Dalleh said. “We had some issues early but we got them cleared up and the kids really responded, made it a game and took the lead there for a while. But it goes back to turnovers and this is what's going to happen until we cut them out.”

McCarty and Strong tallied 14 points apiece for Brownwood, Porter added seven, Yoder chipped in four points, Clemons finished with two and Isyah Campos recorded a free throw.

For Denver City, Delarosa led all scorers with 20 points while Estevan Mendoza contributed 19 points.

The Lions will face Stephenville at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at the Brownwood Coliseum in the third-place game.