Trailing by as many as nine points in the first half, the No. 15 Brownwood Lady Lions used a 14-2 run during the end of the third period and start of the fourth to seize a 39-34 advantage over the No. 10 Abilene Wylie Lady Bulldogs with 5:26 remaining.
But Wylie — sparked by an 18-3 run in the first half to open the largest lead of the game — answered with an 18-4 spurt down to the stretch en route to a 50-44 victory at Warren Gym Tuesday, essentially locking up the District 5-4A girls basketball championship.
“We had some mental lapses toward the end and turned the ball over, but I can’t take anything away from the effort we came out and played with tonight,” said Lady Lions head coach Heather Hohertz, whose squad needed a victory to keep their hopes of back-to-back district championships alive.
After leading 8-2 midway through the first period, the Lady Lions (25-5, 3-2) witnessed Wylie (21-6, 5-0) score 18 of the next 21 points to open a 20-11 cushion at the 5:41 mark of the second period.
The Lady Lions gradually whittled away at the deficit and regained a 31-30 edge on a bucket from Taytum Sutton with 1:26 left in the third period, which capped a string of eight straight points for Brownwood. Down 30-23, a Sutton trey ignited the surge followed by a bucket from Kenya Barnes and a free throw from Mallory Garcia.
Wylie briefly regained a 32-31 edge on a Julia Lovelace bucket, but Brownwood answered as a pair of Garcia free throws gave the Lady Lions a 33-32 lead heading into the fourth period. There, buckets from Sutton and Garcia stretched the lead to 37-32, but turnovers soon began to plague Brownwood.
Sutton’s deuce with 5:26 left pushed Brownwood’s lead back to five points, 39-34, with 5:26 left, but the Lady Lions failed to score over the next 2:52. In that span, Wylie — aided by a handful of Lady Lion giveaways — was able to grab a 43-39 advantage before Garcia scored with 2:34 left.
“We came back and got the lead, but we turned it over and they got something going in transition,” Hohertz said. “When you’re trying to close out a game and run sets, you can’t turn it over. The people that were out there have played tons of minutes and they cant have that type of mental lapse. They have to take care of the ball, especially when we’re trying to seal it, and that was the deal breaker for us.”
Lauren Fulenwider, who drained nine three-pointers for Wylie in the first meeting, hit just her second trey with 1:48 left, put it proved to be a dagger as the Lady Lions fell behind 46-41. The Lady Bulldogs tacked on four more points before a trey by Garcia at the buzzer trimmed the final deficit to six points.
Garcia led all scorers with 19 points while Sutton added 12 for the Lady Lions, Kenya Barnes finished with eight, Sage Cupps was limited to three points and Ryleigh Dalleh, coming off a 31-point effort in her last outing, tallied two points.
Lovelace led Wylie with 17 points trailed by Mary Lovelace with eight and Fulenwider, Abbey Henson and Skylar Williams with six points apiece.
The Lady Lions will attempt to bounce back at Sweetwater at 6:15 p.m. Friday. Brownwood won the first meeting at home, 73-62.