GLEN ROSE — The Brownwood Lions kept their 7-4A record flawless and secured their second consecutive district championship in the process, upending the Glen Rose Tigers, 71-67, Friday night.
The Lions (26-5, 7-0) trailed by as many as 12 points on two separate occasions and didn't take the lead until the final minute of the contest, as 33 points from A.J. McCarty and 21 from Zach Strong — who picked up his third foul early in the second period — ignited the comeback.
“That was a playoff atmosphere and Glen Rose can go, especially in their own place,” said Lions head coach Nadir Dalleh. “They shot the ball well, but I give it to our kids for not quitting. We got down 12 a couple of times, but they fought back and that just shows a playoff-caliber team, and I'm glad to be a part of that.”
Also scoring for the Lions were John Wilhelm with six points, Beau Bronniman with five, Brandon Hamrick with four and Isyah Campos with two points.
Glen Rose (17-18, 4-3) received 20 points from Kasen Keese, 15 from Austin Worthen and 13 points from Matthew Hammonds.
“They did a good job off the dribble tonight and I remember them doing that last year when we came here,” Dalleh said of Glen Rose. “It was tough to defend, especially when we had a little bit of foul trouble. Zach is usually sitting down there waiting on you on anything coming through, but with him in foul trouble he wasn't the presence he could be, but everybody else stepped up.”
Brownwood trailed 21-9 after one quarter, 37-29 at halftime and 54-48 through three frames.
In the fourth period, the Lions crept within a point, 59-58, on a three-pointer by McCarty, but as was the case for most of the rest of the evening, Glen Rose quickly stretched the lead back to six points, 64-58.
Brownwood then began its game-clinching 13-3 closing run with buckets underneath from Strong and Hamrick. Hamrick was fouled on his shot and missed the free throw, but McCarty yanked down the rebound and delivered a putback to even the score at 64 with 2:45 remaining.
“We talk about it being a different player every night, and I'm glad for all those that I have,” Dalleh said regarding McCarty's 33-point effort.
The score remained tied until just over a minute remained when McCarty drained a three-pointer, giving Brownwood its first lead, 67-64. Glen Rose answered with 52 seconds left as Worthen knocked down a trey to knot the score at 67.
On the Lions' next trip down the floor, Strong was fouled with 36 seconds left and sank one of two free throws, pushing the Lions in front, 68-67.
Glen Rose's next possession ended with a missed layup, which was rebounded by Hamrick, who threw a strike on the outlet pass to Strong as he converted the bucket and was fouled with one second left, resulting in the four-point margin for the Lions.
“That didn't happen often tonight because Glen Rose was crashing the boards hard and we were just watching, and that was on us,” Dalleh said, referring to the final play for the Lions. “If we want to move on further than what we've been doing we have to get better at that, we can't watch rebounds land. Glen Rose got a lot of second-chance points, but our kids fight and this was a big win for us.”
The 7-4A champion Lions will look to run the table against their district foes as they host Godley (12-13, 3-4) — which was off Friday night — for Senior Night at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“Senior Night might take a while, we have 11 of these guys,” Dalleh said. “Now that we have the championship outright maybe we'll have a trophy at the game. It depends on what the kids do in the game, so that's their motivation there. I hope everybody comes out, we've had great student sections the last few games and the kids feed off that.”