SNYDER — Despite mustering just 12 points in the first half, the Brownwood Lions owned a one-point halftime advantage over the Snyder Tigers. But the end of the night, however, the Lions’ margin of victory was much greater.
The Lions recorded their 20th victory of the season Tuesday night, pulling away from Snyder for a 42-24 win to complete a District 5-4A sweep. With the win, the playoff-bound Lions (20-8, 4-2) are guaranteed no worse than the third seed in the playoffs having swept both Snyder (11-12, 2-5) and Big Spring (6-22, 1-5).
A.J. McCarty led the charge for the Lions with 21 points — half of Brownwood’s team total.
“A.J. was way more active and although he didn’t have a great first half, he figured out that when we ran that little zone on the back side he could get some steals and some layups,” said Lions second-year head coach Nadir Dalleh. “He finished with 21 and you couldn’t ask for more much from a sophomore.”
Blake Bronniman chipped in nine points for the Lions trailed by five from Zach Strong, three from Jared Cullins and two points apiece from Xavier Porter and Isyah Campos.
But the story of the game for the Lions was their play on defense. Snyder failed to reach double figures in any quarter, scoring four points in the opening period, seven in the second, four in third and nine in the fourth.
“It was an ugly game offensively on both sides, but this was our best defensive effort,” Dalleh said. “We came out in that 1-2-2 with Zach up front, he’s a long, lanky kid and he disrupts a lot of things. We watched film from last time and Snyder tried to do everything through their posts. We showed him up top and once the first pass was made we sagged him down and fronted No. 44 (Barron Wesley), who killed us last game, and cut that off and that slowed them down.”
The Lions rallied from 12 down at Snyder last year to steal a victory from the Tigers, and erased a 12-point deficit in Brownwood earlier this season for a 39-37 district triumph.
With Snyder down by 12 points in the fourth, the Tigers trimmed Brownwood’s cushion to 30-24. But the Lions fired back with the last dozen points of the game to secure the win. McCarty accounted for seven of the closing points, Porter and Bronniman added two each and Strong sank a free throw.
Next up for the Lions is a 7:30 p.m. Friday rematch at No. 9 Abilene Wylie (27-3, 6-0), which defeated Brownwood, 65-45, at Warren Gym on Jan. 23.
“Wylie is plenty good and they have all their kids back,” Dalleh said. “We hung with them for about three quarters at our place and were within 10 early in the second half. If we take care of the ball and take care of us, it should be a good game.”