The Brownwood Lady Lions yielded the first nine points and didn't score for the initial 6:19 of the contest. Heading into the fourth period, Brownwood was still down by six points. But when the final buzzer sounded Friday night, the Lady Lions prevailed with a critical 45-43 victory over the District 7-4A rival Godley Lady Cats, which moved Brownwood back into a second-place tie with Glen Rose in the league standings.
“I try to stay as positive as I can, but it was a tough night for all but about a minute of the game,” said Lady Lions head coach Heather Hohertz. “It came down to guts, guts and more guts. I'm proud of my girls and how they fought back and found a way to win.”
With the score knotted at 43 after Godley's Madilynn Maxwell sank a pair of free throws with 16 seconds left, Brownwood resumed its final possession at half court with 10 seconds remaining following a timeout. Though the Lady Lions did not execute the possession the way it was drawn up by Hohertz, junior forward Matyha Thompson came away with the ball 15 feet from the basket on the right corner. With five seconds left, Thompson fired up a jumper that hit nothing but net, pushing Brownwood back in front, 45-43, with three seconds to go.
Following a timeout, Godley inbounded by ball but Mallory Garcia recorded a steal at midcourt, which sealed the victory for the Lady Lions (16-14, 3-3), who jumped the Lady Cats (12-20, 2-3) in the district standings.
“We even messed up the set play for Matyha at the end and she just went and got the ball and went and scored,” Hohertz said. “She's turning into a big-time player for us. Coach K (former Howard Payne head coach Chris Kielsmeier) always told me big-time players step up in big-time situations, and she did that for us.”
Thompson finished with 13 points, including six in the fourth period for Brownwood, while Kenya Barnes led the Lady Lions with 14 points. Mallory Garcia chipped in 10 points trailed by three from Hadley Monroe and two points from Catrina Brooks.
“We talked about how we had more size than they did and we didn't execute the way we should have the whole game, but Kenya stepped up on the offensive end,” Hohertz said. “She didn't quite rebound the way I wanted her to on the defensive end, but right now at this point in the year a win is a win.”
Godley received 21 points from Hanna Robertson, but Brownwood held her off the scoreboard in the fourth period. Madilynn Maxwell, who scored 31 points in Godley's 50-48 victory over Brownwood on Jan. 8, was limited to 11 points in the rematch. Hanna Griggs added five points trailed by Mallory Maxwell with three, Jaime Babbe with two and Kaylee Williams with one point.
The Lady Lions were coming off their worst offensive outing of the season, a 19-point effort in an 18-point loss at Glen Rose, as Brownwood converted just 18 percent of its shots and committed 24 turnovers. Brownwood gave the ball away just 13 times against Godley and shot 35 percent (16 of 46) overall and 65 percent (11 of 17) at the free throw line.
“We took Wednesday off and had a mental practice day,” Hohertz said. “We talked about the things we need to do to be better and cutting down turnovers was one of them. But we shot 2 for 17 for three-point line and that's rough for us, but we found a way to win and that's all that matters.”
Trailing 9-0 early, the Lady Lions closed to gap to 9-7 at the end of the first period. Barnes finally put Brownwood on the board with 1:41 left in the quarter then Thompson scored and Garcia drained a three-pointer with three seconds remaining.
Brownwood grabbed its first lead, 13-11, on a putback by Brooks with 4:26 left before halftime. Leading 18-17 after a pair of free throws from Barnes with 56 seconds left in the half, the Lady Lions went into the halftime locker room down 20-18 as Robertson knocked down a trey before the buzzer.
Godley extended its lead to 36-30 by the end of the third period, but Brownwood opened the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run. A bucket by Barnes, a traditional three-point play from Monroe and three-pointer by Garcia pushed the Lady Lions in front, 38-36, with 4:04 left.
The Lady Lions' lead peaked at four points, 42-38, on a pair of Thompson free throws with 55 seconds left, but Mallory Maxwell drained a three to trim the deficit to 42-41.
Clinging to a one-point lead, the Lady Lions lost the ball at midcourt on the ensuing, but Thompson came up with a block on what would have been the go-ahead layup for Godley with 20 seconds left.
Garcia then sank a free throw with 19 seconds left, but Madilynn Maxwell answered with a pair with 16 seconds to go knot to score.
The Lady Lions are off Tuesday then visit district leader and eighth-ranked Stephenville on Friday. Brownwood led Stephenville by eight points with 2:24 left in their Jan. 15 meeting, but the Honeybees scored the final 10 points to steal a 50-48 victory.
“I really think we are still hung over from that Stephenville game,” Hohertz said. “We know we let it slip away. Stephenville is a tough place to play, no team that I've ever coached has won there and I'm going to challenge them with that. We're going to give them the best shot that we can.”