Brownwood rips Mineral Wells, 81-51, for 20th victory overall

A 13th consecutive victory has resulted in a second straight 20-win campaign for Brownwood, and has put the Lions on the brink of clinching their first district basketball championship since the 1990-91 season.

By virtue of the Lions’ 81-51 thrashing of the Mineral Wells Rams Tuesday night at Warren Gym, Brownwood (20-9, 6-0) will host the Glen Rose Tigers (17-15, 5-1) at 7 p.m. Friday where a Lions victory secures the outright District 7-4A championship. If the Tigers — who pushed the Lions to overtime in the first meeting before Brownwood prevailed 64-61 — are victorious, there will be a two-way tie atop the league standings with one game left for each team in the regular season.

“I’ve told them all year the biggest game of the year is our next game, and this one surely will be,” said Lions third-year head coach Nadir Dalleh. “We’ve got the one-game lead right now but that doesn’t mean anything come Friday night. We just have to take care of our home court, and hopefully we come out on top. It ought to be a fun game and I hope everybody comes out and watches.”

In possession of an 11-10 lead over Mineral Wells (3-27, 0-7) with 3:46 left in the first period, Brownwood reeled off 29 of the next 35 points and found itself in front, 40-16, at the 3:55 mark of the second period. The Lions — who led 23-14 after one quarter, 48-21 at halftime and 67-35 through three frames — were able to coast to the finish, matching last season’s victory total with two regular season games remaining.

“Back-to-back 20-win seasons haven’t happened around here very often,” Dalleh said. “It’s a tribute to these kids, it’s all about them buying into everything we’re trying to do. You can’t ask for a better situation. They want to win and they’re hungry.”

Ten Lions scored — and all lit up the scoreboard before halftime. Zach Strong led the charge with 18 points trailed by 10 each from A.J. McCarty and Beau Bronniman, eight apiece from John Wilhelm and Ryan Riker, seven from Darrell Williams, six each from Isyah Campos and Cooper Swanzy, and four apiece from Lawrence Garcia and Theo Bryant.

“Everybody got a lot of time and a lot of minutes and that’s huge,” Dalleh said. “People come off the bench and produce, and I think at times our bench played a little tougher defense than our starters and that’s something I have to challenge those guys with.”

With the bench chipping in 31 points, slowing down the Brownwood offense — which averages 74 points per game against district foes — continues to be an enigma.

“Sometimes they don’t get the minutes they probably deserve, but that’s just the way it goes,” Dalleh said. “There’s not a kid that came off the bench tonight that didn’t produce and they’ve done that the last couple of games. No matter what the score is, you can’t tell kids not to play hard, and our kids give great effort all night.”