A red-hot start was followed by a nail-biter of a finish as the short-handed Brownwood Lions held off the Lampasas Badgers for a season-opening 60-56 victory at Warren Gym Saturday afternoon.

“It was a good experience for us,“ said Lions fourth-year head coach Nadir Dalleh. “I'm still missing six varsity kids, so it was good to get these younger guys out here. I love seeing the young guys succeed.”

The Lions (1-0) — who limited Lampasas (2-2) to single digits in points until the 2:12 mark of the second quarter — led by as many as 27 points in the first half. In front 41-18 at halftime, the Lions fell victim to a 16-2 run by the Badgers to start the second half, which trimmed the deficit to nine points, and the dogfight commenced.

“We went in at halftime with a big lead and got a little happy that we had a big lead, one of those deals,” Dalleh said. “We came out very flat in the second half and part of that is conditioning. We have to get in shape.”

Lampasas closed the gap to 45-36 with 1:45 left in the third period, but Brownwood answered with a 7-0 spurt — three points by John Wilhelm and two each by Luke Gray and Bryson Monroe — to push the lead back to 16 points, 52-36, with 7:19 left in the game.

The Badgers, however, made another charge, closing to 55-51 on a three-pointer by Jett Bramon with 2:43 left.

A bucket from Beau Bronniman and a free throw by Brandon Hamrick stretched the Lions' lead to 58-51 with 1:35 to go. But Lampasas' Jacob Hogeda sank a pair of three throws, then buried at three-pointer with 39 seconds left to shave the Lions' lead to 58-56.

Hamrick answered with a driving bucket at the end other with 24 seconds to go to push Brownwood's lead back to two possessions, 60-56. After each team committed an offensive foul and turnover, Lampasas was unable to convert its final two field goal attempts over the last 13 seconds.

“John Wilhelm pretty much calmed everyone down and that's what a senior leader is supposed to do,” Dalleh said of the late whirlwind of activity. “He slowed it down for everybody and said let's run some offense and be patient and that's something that's hard to teach. I love to see that from the kids.”

Hamrick led the Lions with 17 points trailed by 13 from Wilhelm, 11 from Bronniman, six from Monroe, four from Christian Kinzler, three from Jakob Hataway and two points apiece from Gray and Bryan Healer.

Lampasas received 16 points each from Bramon and Nate Burchardt, 11 from Quinn Pace, six from Elijah Stanley, five from Hogeda, three from Braxton Tabor and two points from Cody Richardson.

Brownwood jumped out to a 16-3 after one quarter, owned a 33-8 advantage with 2:37 left in the second period and the cushion peaked at 39-12 with 1:06 remaining in the first half. “The first half was awesome,” Dalleh said. “The kids were playing together and we were taking good shots. But you could tell after halftime we got tired and got a little lazy. We have to quit turning the ball over. Turnovers and not blocking out on our defensive end were key to their comeback.”

The Lions return to action at 1:30 p.m. Monday as they take on Class 5A Georgetown at the AT&T Center in San Antonio — home of the Spurs.

“It's going to be a great experience for the kids whether we win or lose,” Dalleh said. “To be able to have our young team in a place like that is exciting. Coach (David) Canfield at Georgetown does an unbelievable job with his kids and they'll be ready. I'm not sure if they'll have everybody either, they're in the same situation we're in with football, but it's still going to be a good time for everybody.”