After needing overtime to escape Stephenville with a victory in their District 7-4A opener Tuesday night, the Brownwood Lions enjoyed a much easier outing in their first home game of league play.
The Lions, seeking to defend their 7-4A championship, cruised past the Mineral Wells Rams, 84-56, Friday night at Warren Gym. Despite the comfortable margin, Lions head coach Nadir Dalleh still sees plenty of areas in which Brownwood (21-5, 2-0) needs to improve.
“It wasn't the prettiest thing,” Dalleh said. “The biggest thing that stands out is free throws. We worked hard on those so that's the most disheartening part. Even in our own gym we struggled, and we have to get better at that.
“Defensively we didn't play that well either. Mineral Wells got a lot of easy, open shots. We have to be better in all aspects Tuesday night when Glen Rose comes in here.”
The Lions led 32-16 after one quarter, 53-31 at halftime and 70-40 through three frames despite converting just 8 of 24 free throws for the game.
Zach Strong finished with a game-high 24 points, with just four coming from the charity stripe in 11 attempts.
“Zach's got great form and nine out of 10 times when he misses he's falling backward,” Dalleh said. “We just have to fix that. He's in a position where he's always going to get hammered and he has to step up and make those shots, and he will. He even came out at halftime and worked on it.”
John Wilhelm also finished in double figures with 19 points trailed by Beau Bronniman and A.J. McCarty with nine apiece, Drew Huff with six, Isyah Campos and Cooper Swanzy with five each, Brandon Hamrick with four, and Josh Baucom with three points.
Mineral Wells (4-20, 0-3) received 20 points from Zachary Degaldo.
Leading 12-11 midway through the first period, the Lions fired off a 17-2 run to seize control of the contest, 29-13, with 35 seconds remaining in the opening stanza. Strong contributed 11 points during the surge aided by two each from Hamrick, Huff and Wilhelm.
Brownwood's lead reached 20 points just 52 seconds into the second period when Wilhelm's bucket made the score 36-16. The Lions' first-half lead peaked at 27 points, 46-19, when McCarty converted a drive in the paint at the 4:46 mark.
Up by 22 points at the break after eclipsing the half-century mark before halftime, the Lions' advantage reached its max of 32 points, 67-35, with 1:09 left in the third quarter when Baucom knocked down a three-pointer.
“We moved well and played together well, but we probably took some shots we shouldn't have,” Dalleh said. “When you're up 30 though, sometimes you take those chances. We just have to execute and get everybody 100 percent healthy. We're not quite there yet.”
Glen Rose (14-16, 1-1) comes to town fresh off Friday night's 56-54 loss to 7-4A rival Godley (11-10, 2-1). Game time is slated for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Tigers defeated Mineral Wells, 83-34, in their league opener.
“Their size is a lot like Mineral Wells but they shoot the basketball well, move well and play hard,” Dalleh said. “It's going to be a game. We need to make sure we get better at the free throw line and get better with our defense.”