Brownwood's run of eight straight points in extra session key to victory

The Brownwood Lions continue to find ways to win.

Fresh off a third-place finish at the TexasBank Holiday Classic, in which the Lions rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to knock off Stephenville in the tournament finale, Brownwood on Tuesday picked up a victory over the team that ended its 2016-17 season.

It required overtime, but the Lions defeated the Graham Steers, 75-69, at Warren Gym in a back-and-forth affair that saw Brownwood relinquish a seven-point lead with 3:27 remaining. But in a game of spurts, the last one favored the Lions as an 8-0 run in overtime proved to be the difference.

“It’s a big win because we might see them again in the first round of the playoffs,” said Lions second-year head coach Nadir Dalleh, whose team lost to Graham, 62-49, in the bi-district round last year, as well as 66-51 during the regular season. “We’re coming together and it’s good to beat Graham because they’re a good, solid team, well-coached, well-disciplined. It was good for us to finish a game.”

The Lions’ depth was on full display Tuesday night as A.J. McCarty led Brownwood with 15 points trailed by 13 from Isyah Campos, 12 from Blake Bronniman, 10 from Zach Strong, nine from Xavier Porter, seven from Sean Yoder, five from Tommy Bowden, and two points each from Ryan Riker and Gavon Clemons.

For Graham (10-8), Cameron Mason scored a game-high 21 points followed by 13 from Jack Mercer and 12 apiece from Case Birch and Tucker Horn.

Knotted at 62 at the end of regulation, the Lions faced a 66-64 deficit with 2:40 left in the four-minute overtime when Porter drained the go-ahead three-pointer that triggered an eight-point surge for the Lions. Leading 67-66, Yoder added a bucket at 1:57 that stretched the lead to 69-66.

Graham had the opportunity to tie or regain the lead but missed three consecutive free throws, including the front end of a one-and-one. With 24 seconds remaining, the Steers were whistled for a technical foul, and Porter sank two free throws to push the advantage to 71-66.

McCarty added another free throw just three seconds later, but Mason buried a trey to bring Graham within 72-69 with 15 seconds to go.

The Lions inbounded the ball and McCarty was fouled, and he sank two free throws to essentially ice the victory as the score stood at 74-69 with 12 seconds left.

Brownwood started the game in a 14-5 hole, but pulled even at 14 before the first quarter ended. The 9-0 run featured a Bowden three-pointer, free throws from Campos and buckets by Strong and Porter.

Still down 17-14 at the end of the first period, the Lions were able to grab a 35-33 halftime edge. Trailing 31-25, the Lions went on a 10-0 run to grab their first lead of the game. A trey and a deuce from Bronniman closed the gap to 31-30, then McCarty sank a three-pointer that pushed the Lions in front for the first time, 33-31, at the 1:05 mark. Yoder scored with 11 seconds left to cap the run.

Graham converted three consecutive three-pointers during the third period — by Mason, Marcus Brooks and Birch — to race out to a 49-41 lead with 2:02 left in the quarter. By the end of the period, however, the Lions had closed the gap to 51-49 — thanks to three-pointers from McCarty and Campos and a bucket from Yoder.

Two more treys from Campos and a bucket from Clemons allowed Brownwood to open a 57-51 lead with 4:37 remaining. With 3:27 to go, Campos scored on a layup that gave the Lions their largest lead, 61-54.

Graham answered with a rally of its own, tallying eight of the final nine points to force overtime. A bucket in the paint by Mercer with 18 seconds created a 62-all tie.

“It was a game of runs,” Dalleh said. “They went up big and we caught back up, then we went up big and it kept going back and forth. We kept switching up defenses and I think that threw them off a little bit. They were hot early and we couldn’t cover the three-pointer very well. Then we covered that up and made them do something else and that slowed them down a little bit. But we also slowed ourselves down with some of the turnovers, but those were better tonight. We’re getting there.”

With their eighth victory in the last nine outings, the Lions moved 10 games over the .500 mark with a 15-5 overall record.

The Lions host Dublin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, then travel to Brady at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in their final outings before the start of District 5-4A competition.