In a season filled with inconsistency, the Brownwood Lady Lions saved their best performance for the their final home game. On 'Senior Night,' the Lady Lions avenged an earlier loss to Stephenville, leaping the Honeybees in the District 7-4A standings by virtue of Friday's 50-38 triumph at Warren Gym.
“I thought we played four quarters finally with energy,” said Lady Lions head coach Heather Hohertz. “I felt like we didn't really take a possession off. That's something we talked about all week. We can't have off possessions. Whether we are tired or got hacked on the other end and they didn't call it, sprint back and play defense, and I felt like our defense was pretty dang good tonight.”
With the win, the Lady Lions (18-12, 5-3) are now in control of the second playoff seed from 7-4A, which they can secure with a victory at Mineral Wells at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The loss was the third in a row for Stephenville (23-11, 4-4), which slipped to third place in the district standings.
Brownwood now appears on a collision course with Decatur, which will likely be the third seed from District 8-3A, for the bi-district round of the playoffs.
“It doesn't matter who we play right now, I just want them to play to their potential and that's what I've been telling them all year,” Hohertz said. “I'll take a loss as long as you played to your potential. We played to our potential tonight and pulled out a win.”
The Lady Lions were led by their four seniors Friday night as Matyha Thompson poured in 22 points, Catrina Fullerlove-Brooks added 13, Hadley Monroe finished with eight and McKenzie Welker contributed a three-pointer.
“They've meant a lot to this program and they've been through some ups and downs, but tonight they finally showed what potential they have,” Hohertz said of the seniors. “They've shown good leadership all year, everyone finally got on the same page and I'm proud of the whole team. It was a special night to honor those seniors and go out with a win over Stephenville.”
Jaylen Savage and Alexa Arreola each chipped in two points for Brownwood, as well.
Stephenville was led by 12 points from Mikayla Diaz, eight from Landri Withers, seven from Kassidy Nowak, six from Jaylee Matthews, three from Bella Diaz and one point each from Katie McIrvin and Jettie Funderburgh.
The Lady Lions led from start to finish in avenging a 50-41 loss at Stephenville on Jan. 21, a game in which Brownwood couldn't hold on to a second-half double-digit advantage.
Knotted at 5 with 3:24 left in the first quarter — the only time Brownwood didn't lead — the Lady Lions finished with seven of the last eight points to carry a 12-6 edge into the second period. Brooks broke the tie with two free throws then added a bucket ahead of Welker's trey with just under a minute left.
“It's not always been easy for Catrina,” Hohertz said in regard to Fullerlove-Brooks' performance in the home finale. “I've ridden her hard and even kicked her out of practice a few times. She started most of the year, but I felt like right before Christmas break she wasn't giving me what she should, so I brought her off the bench. Her game tonight says it all. She wanted to go out with a big win and a big performance. “
The lead stood at 16-10 when Thompson exited the game after tweaking her knee, but she returned with 3:51 left in the half and reeled off Brownwood's next six points — with half coming on a three-pointer — to stretch the lead to double figures, 22-12, with 1:12 left before halftime.
In front 24-12 at the break, Brownwood traded buckets with Stephenville throughout the third period as the Lady Lions owned a 37-26 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Stephenville crept as close as seven points on four occasions in the final period, but the Lady Lions were able to fight off a potential rally, and tallied the game's last five points.
As for Tuesday's game at Mineral Wells (7-19, 0-7), Hohertz said, “They have nothing to lose so they're going to come out and give us everything they've got. We can't let this be a trap game for us, we have to finish out district the right way.”