It wasn't the prettiest performance, but the Brownwood Lady Lions landed in the win column on opening night, stifling the Eastland Lady Mavs for a 37-24 victory at Warren Gym Tuesday.
The Lady Lions surrendered nine of the first 11 points and trailed after one quarter, but used a 16-3 scoring advantage in the second period to wrestle away the momentum and open a 23-12 halftime lead.
“I thought we came out flat,” said Lady Lions 11th-year head coach Heather Hohertz. “We had to start pressing to be able to turn some energy on. Our second group came in and gave us a little bit of energy in the first quarter but we just couldn't score. You can't be a successful ball club and shoot 34 percent from two-point land and most of those are all in the paint.”
Down 9-2 at the 1:52 mark of the opening stanza, a driving bucket by Matyha Thompson — who led all scorers with 14 points — began the thaw for the Lady Lions offense. Freshman Natalie Edmonds knocked down a three-pointer 27 seconds later, and Brownwood was able to trim to deficit to 9-7 by quarter's end.
At the 6:11 mark of the second period, McKenzie Welker drained a trey to give the Lady Lions their first lead since the initial bucket of the contest, 10-9. Sophomore guard Alexa Arreola then chipped in her first bucket to cap the 10-0 surge, as Brownwood led 12-9 with 2:25 left in the half.
Eastland closed to within 12-11 with 1:58 left in the first half, but the Lady Lions followed with their most explosive offensive spurt of the night. Brownwood reeled off 11 points in a 1:22 span as a trey from Brooke Price began the run, Thompson added two free throws, Catrina Fullerlove-Brooks converted a three-point play and Arreola drained a three-pointer.
The Lady Mavs halted the run with a free throw by Bailey Browning with eight seconds left in the half, but Eastland managed just three points the entire quarter.
“I thought at times our defense looked really good whether we were in man or zone, and then at times we were just standing still,” Hohertz said. “Like I told them in the last timeout, you can't decide when you want to turn on the switch, you have to have it on the whole time. I thought we chose our possessions on when we wanted to play defense and we have to fix that.”
The Lady Lions maintained their double-digit advantage through much of the second half as Brownwood took a 31-18 advantage to the fourth period. The lead peaked at 17 points for Brownwood, 35-18, with 6:44 remaining after a pair of free throws by Thompson. The Lady Lions, however, were outscored 6-2 the rest of the way.
“Our offensive rebounding was not good,” Hohertz said. “I just didn't think we attacked the ball enough. We sat around and tried to watch Matyha score. Everybody has to be engaged and everybody has to step up and score.”
Along with Thompson's 14 points, Brooks contributed seven, Arreola added five, Edmonds, Welker and Price tallied three apiece and Ashlyn Storm chipped in two.
“Everyone played good, solid defense at times, and we distributed the ball very well,” Hohertz said. “All 10 of them got in and got valuable minutes and that's what we're trying to do early on is get some depth.”
The Lady Lions are back in action at 5 p.m. Friday as they welcome Fredericksburg.