As the Brownwood Lady Lions prepare to begin their 11th basketball season under head coach Heather Hohertz, the frontcourt will be expected to lead the way while a revamped and less experienced backcourt looks to gain traction.
The Lady Lions welcome Eastland to Warren Gym at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the regular season opener.
“With the graduation of two experienced guards and one that scored over 1,000 points in her four-year varsity career, we will be young at the guard position,” Hohertz said. “Early on, we will rely on our experienced senior class and post play.”
The Lady Lions return District 7-4A Newcomer of the Year Matyha Thompson, along with Catrina Fullerlove-Brooks, Lindsey Larose and Ashlyn Storm inside. Thompson averaged 11.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game in her first season at Brownwood a year ago.
“We will lean on our inside game,” Hohertz said. “We will look to play through Matyha, Catrina, Lindsey, and Ashlyn early on.”
Second-team all-district selection Hadley Monroe returns at one guard spot along with honorable mention choice McKenzie Welker, Carol Ann Hetzel and Brooke Price. Monroe produced 2.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists on average, while Welker contributed 3.1 points and 1.1 rebounds per contest last season.
Varsity newcomers include sophomore Alexa Arreola and freshman Nat Edmonds, both guards.
“We will have to improve a lot with our outside game with our young guards.,” Hohertz said. “We will need to improve our outside shooting to be able to be an inside-out team.”
The Lady Lions are coming off an 18-16 campaign during the 2018-19 season and third-place seeding in the final District 7-4A standings. Brownwood has made the previous in each of its 10 seasons under Hohertz, who has posted a 218-105 record while in charge of the Lady Lions program.
After facing Eastland, the Lady Lions' pre-district slate includes games against Fredericksburg (Nov. 15), Merkel (Nov. 26), Jim Ned (Dec. 3), Marble Falls (Dec. 10), San Angelo Central (Dec. 13), Midland Greenwood (Dec. 17), Abilene Wylie (Dec. 20), Gatesville (Jan. 3) and Graham (Jan. 7). Brownwood will also complete in tournaments at Brock (Nov. 21-23) and Lorena (Dec. 5-7), as well as hosting the TexasBank Holiday Classic (Dec. 26-28).
“Our pre-district games along with our tournaments will be a tough test to get us ready for district,” Hohertz said. “I want to be able to play consistent on the defensive and offensive ends. I want our players to be able to accept the challenge no matter who we are playing. We have to continue to stress the little things. We lost a lot of close games last year because we didn’t take care of the small things in practice, in the film room, in the weight room, and in games.”
District 7-4A action begins Jan. 10 at Glen Rose as the Lady Lions look to improve on last year's third-place effort, as they placed behind Stephenville and Glen Rose and ahead of Godley and Mineral Wells.
“Our district once again will be tough,” Hohertz said. “Stephenville has a new coach, but they will be the ones to chase again this year. Glen Rose will be once again be a tough match up. Godley and Mineral Wells will also give you everything they have once district season starts.”
Following the league opener, Brownwood hosts Godley (Jan. 14), travels to Stephenville (Jan. 21), welcomes Mineral Wells (Jan. 24) and Glen Rose (Jan. 28) in consecutive games, ventures to Godley (Jan. 31), plays the home finale against Stephenville (Feb. 7), and caps the regular season at Mineral Wells (Feb. 11).
Despite several faces with additional responsibilities this year, Hohertz feels the pieces are in place to make another lengthy playoff push — if the Lady Lions play up to their potential.
“I've been telling our team all summer, all fall, and through both our scrimmages that we are a good team right now and we have all the talent to be a great team but we have to do the little things right,” Hohertz said. “We are in a tough region but if we can take of the things we can control we have a chance to put ourselves in a position to make a deep run.”