Coming off a 29-win campaign — the most in a single season — and seventh bi-district championship in nine years, the Brownwood Lady Lions basketball team begins its 10th season under the tutelage of head coach Heather Hohertz Tuesday night.
The Lady Lions, 29-6 last year after their first ever trip to the Region I-4A tournament the season prior, visit the Class 5A Granbury Lady Pirates, who went 12-19 a year ago, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Despite losing two-time all-state selection and leading scorer Sage Cupps, along with defensive standout Taytum Sutton, expectations remain high for the Lady Lions, as seniors Mallory Garcia — an all-state choice last season — and Ryleigh Dalleh will shoulder the load.
Both first-team all-district choices a year ago, Garcia generated 13.5 points, 3.6 steals, 2.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per contest, while Dalleh produced 9.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.4 steals per contest.
“We lost a great scorer and a great defensive, energy person, but we have high expectations with our two seniors leading us,” said Hohertz, who is 200-89 through her first nine years, all at Brownwood. “They have been with the program for a while and know the expectations we have.”
The Lady Lions enter the season ranked No. 18 in Class 4A by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, but trail District 7-4A rivals Stephenville at No. 11 and Glen Rose at No. 14. Mineral Wells and Godley also comprise the new district.
“I expect us to be able to compete for a district championship, but we are in a extremely tough district and region,” Hohertz said. “I still believe this team has a chance to be really good. With our depth and our ability to score from the inside and outside, we should have a chance to get back to the regional tournament.”
Other key returnees include Kenya Barnes in the post and Hadley Monroe in the backcourt, while varsity newcomers are transfer Matyha Thompson, “an athletic long forward who will help us score and rebound,” according to Hohertz, and post Lindsey Larose who, “with her length and height should help us with our depth on the inside,” Hohertz added.
Following Tuesday’s opener against Granbury, the Lady Lions’ pre-district schedule features games against Eastland, Merkel, Jim Ned, Marble Falls, San Angelo Central, Haskell, Gatesville, Fredericksburg and Abilene Wylie, along with tournaments at Brock, Lorena and the Texas Bank Holiday Classic.
“We have to find our identity and continue to get better day in and day out,” Hohertz said of the Lady Lions’ pre-district goals.
The eight-game district slate opens Jan. 4 at home against Glen Rose and concludes Feb. 5 when Mineral Wells visits.
“If we play up to our potential we’ll give ourselves a chance to win a district championship,” Hohertz said.