The Brownwood Lions' nine-game win streak reached its conclusion Friday night at the Brownwood Coliseum, 71-58 at the hands of the Alvarado Indians in the TexasBank Holiday Classic.
The bigger loss for the Lions, however, came with 6:28 left in the contest when point guard Isyah Campos hobbled off the court with a left knee injury. Campos did not return to the game though he eventually returned to the bench with his knee wrapped in ice. The severity of the injury and a timetable for his return were unknown by head coach Nadir Dalleh following the contest.
“When we came out of the huddle that's when it had swelled up,” Dalleh said, referring to a timeout early in the quarter. “The previous time down he planted and his knee kind of gave way a little bit, but I don't know that he thought he did anything. Hopefully it's nothing bad.”
Friday's loss also dropped the Lions to the third seed from Pool A of the Edwin Randle Division heading into Saturday's final day of action. Brownwood, Alvarado, and Levelland — which edged Alvarado, 47-44, earlier Friday — all finished with 2-1 pool marks. The tiebreaker was fewest points allowed as Levelland gave up 142 in its three games followed by Alvarado with 145 and Brownwood with 169.
The Lions, champions of last year's tournament, will conclude tournament action at 11:40 a.m. Saturday at the Brownwood Coliseum against the Pool B third seed — which will be finalized after Cisco and Wimberley square off at 9 a.m. at the Coliseum.
Leading 25-24 over Alvarado at halftime — in game that featured nine lead changes in the first two quarters — turnovers began to catch up to the Lions in the second half. The Lions yielded the first five points of the second half — just as they did in the first — but closed the gap to 35-34 on a bucket by Beau Bronniman at the 4:06 mark.
Alvarado (15-4) responded with 11 consecutive points, aided by Brownwood (14-3) turnovers, to quickly boost the advantage to 46-34 at the 2:26 mark of the third.
The Lions fought back with eight straight points — two three-pointers by John Wilhelm and a deuce from Bronniman — to reduce the deficit to 46-42 with 56 seconds left in the third quarter. Brownwood got no closer than four points the rest of the way as Alvarado was able to increase its lead back to double figures, 59-49, with 5:24 left, as the Lions struggled to find an offensive rhythm again without Campos on the floor.
“We just made too many mistakes and Alvarado didn't,” Dalleh said. “I'm not even sure if they had a turnover. We had plenty of easy turnovers that led to easy baskets for them and that cost us the game. Against a team that fast, you can't do that. What they do, they do well. They finished and we just didn't.”
A.J. McCarty tallied a team-high 15 points for the Lions trailed by 12 each from Bronniman and Zach Strong, nine from Wilhelm, six from Campos and two each from Brandon Hamrick and Cooper Swanzy.
Will Johnson led Alvarado with a game-high 19 points while Waylon Carrillo chipped in 16 and Jake McCullough and Kalon Johnson finished in double figures as well with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
As for what Dalleh hopes to see in Saturday's tournament finale, he said, “Someone has to step up and replace Isyah, I don't see him playing tomorrow. We also need to see more consistency. We had a great game plan going to Zach inside and then we just quit doing that. We kind of forced some shots and we were kind of tired, but I'm not worried about it. This is just the third loss of the season against a really good team that has beat a lot of other really good teams. I'm not real concerned, we're just getting ready for district and playing teams like this will get us there. We just need to get better at executing our offense and playing better defense, of course.”
Also Saturday, the Brownwood Lady Lions (10-9), champions of Pool A, will square off with Abilene Cooper, champions of Pool D, at 10:20 a.m. Saturday at the Coliseum. The winner moves on to face Gatesville at 3:40 p.m. at the Coliseum in the tournament championship game, while the loser battles Nolan Catholic at 2:20 at Brownwood High's Warren Gym for third place.
The JV Lions — undefeated in their pool as well — will meet Dublin at 2:20 p.m. Saturday at the Coliseum to decide the champion of Charles Pattillo bracket.