In a rematch of the TexasBank Holiday Classic girls division championship game, a similar pattern netted an almost identical result as the Brownwood Lady Lions held off the Gatesville Lady Hornets for a 43-40 victory Friday afternoon at Warren Gym.
Again Brownwood (13-9) — which chalked up its fifth win in a row — established a double-digit lead over Gatesville (13-9), only for the Lady Hornets to make a late charge in the closing moments.
The Lady Lions led 13-5 after one quarter, 17-7 at halftime and 30-22 through three periods, before Gatesville — which trailed 27-16 with 2:51 left in the third — crept as close as two points in the final stanza.
“We came out of the gates really moving defensively and holding them to a low scoring output,” said Lady Lions head coach Heather Hohertz. “I told them at halftime Gatesville was going to make a run, they're too good a team to only score seven points in a half, and they did. We shot ourselves in the foot a little bit by not stepping up and making our free throws, but we found a way to win an ugly game.”
Matyha Thompson again led Brownwood with 15 points but fouled out in the fourth quarter. McKenzie Welker chipped in eight points, Catrina Fullerlove-Brooks added five, Alexa Arreola tacked on four, Lindsey Larose, CarolAnn Hetzel and Jaylen Savage contributed three each, and Brooke Price finished with two points.
For Gatesville, Allaiaya Jones led the team with 11 points trailed by Alayna Washington with eight, Ainsley Warren and Josie Boyd with seven each, Cadence Smalley with three, Marlee Ward with two, and Kaylee Jaynes and T'Ana Nolte with one point apiece.
Thompson exited the game with 2:15 remaining and the Lady Lions clinging to a 36-33 edge. Savage, who came in for Thompson, tallied a layup with 1:44 left as Brownwood boosted the lead to 38-33. Jones answered for Gatesville at 1:34, making the score 38-35, then Fullerlove-Brooks drained a pair of free throws to push Brownwood's lead back to five, 40-35, with 1:12 to go.
Ward cut Brownwood's lead to 40-37 with 1:02 left, but Welker answered on the other end with a driving layup as the Lady Lions owned a 42-37 advantage with 49 seconds to go.
“Everyone on our roster scored today and that's really big going forward,” Hohertz said. “At times it has been just Matyha and that helps out a lot knowing that teams just can't key on her.”
Warren buried a trey with nine seconds left as Gatesville closed the gap to 42-40, then Hetzel sank one of two free throws, allowing the Lady Lions to push the lead to 43-40 with six seconds to go. Gatesville pulled down the rebound following a miss on the second try, but a tie-ball call by the officials resulted in possession returning to the Lady Lions.
Brownwood then missed a pair of free throws which could have iced the victory, but Jones' three-point hurl from half-court was off target as the Lady Lions escaped with the win. The Lady Lions converted 18 of 39 free throws for the game, including 14 of 27 in the second half and 7 of 14 in the fourth period.
“I'd like to see us make more free throws down the stretch,” Hohertz said. “We were in the bonus in the middle of the third quarter and we just couldn't pull away. Gatesville kept fighting and fighting but in the end we found a way to win. “
In the first half, Thompson tallied seven points in the opening quarter as the Lady Lady Lions built a 13-5 lead. Brownwood held Gatesville without a bucket the final 9:58 of the first half, and for a total of 11:04 heading into the third quarter. The Lady Hornets converted just two buckets and three free throws the entire first half, and did not reach double figures until the 5:32 juncture of the third period.
“I thought we moving very actively and they were very flat moving the ball,” Hohertz said. “That happens when you're trying to do things against a team you're playing in back-to-back games. I thought we were ready to go from the start of the game.”
The two teams heated up as the third period progressed with Thompson scoring six of Brownwood's 13 points in the quarter, while Washington poured in five and Jones added four for Gatesville, which finished with 15 points by the end of the frame.
The Lady Lions next visit Graham at 6 p.m. Tuesday, then travel to Glen Rose at 6 p.m. Friday for the District 7-4A basketball opener.
“There's still a lot of things we need to fix,” Hohertz said. “I told them in the locker room after the game that I'm telling some of them the same things over and over and if we want to put ourselves in the position we want to be after these next nine games, we have to fix that. We have to fix the small things, and we're still doing that.”