BRECKENRIDGE — Perhaps the coldest shooting night of the season came at the worst possible time for the Brownwood Lions.
Held 30 points below their season average, the postseason campaign for the District 7-4A champion Lions again came to an end in the Region I-4A area round Thursday night, this time at the hands of the 6-4A No. 2 seed Wichita Falls Hirschi Huskies by a 72-40 count.
“The previous five losses, I think that's why we lost four of them,” said Lions head coach Nadir Dalleh. “We were very cold, we couldn't make a thing and that was huge. That's good basketball team — they're fast, they do most things well and they really pass the ball well. When you're not making your shots on this end they make you pay on the other end and that's exactly what happened.”
Knotted at 12 after one quarter, the game took a drastic turn in the second period.
The Lions (28-6) did not score for the initial 6:54 of the quarter — missing 20 field goal attempts — while Hirschi (23-11) ran off 20 unanswered points to open a 32-12 advantage. The only Brownwood points in the quarter came on a pair of John Wilhelm free throws at the 1:06 mark, the result of a double technical foul called against both teams.
“I think that's the worst I've seen us shoot the basketball in two years,” Dalleh said. “Nothing was falling. We'd get to the rim and our shots were going in and out. Then we couldn't make free throws again. The things that haunted us early in the year all came back tonight.”
Trailing 37-14 at halftime after shooting 14 percent from the floor over the first two periods, the Lions attempted to keep pace in the second half but Hirschi stretched the lead to 53-25 by the end of the third period. The Huskies drained a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter, pushing the lead over 30 points, 56-25.
After closing the gap to 62-36 on back-to-back three-pointers by Wilhelm and Beau Bronniman with 4:10 left, Hirschi followed with 10 of the next 11 points to open its largest advantage of the night, 72-37, with 1:16 on the clock.
Hirschi was led by 22 points from Ernest Young, 16 from Jaeden Whitten, 14 from Chris Whitten, six from Gabe Colbert, five from Jahiem Quarles, four from Jamarion Carroll, three from Kiove Nielson, and two points from Nasir Waston.
Zach Strong finished with 16 points for the Lions, Wilhelm tacked on 12 and Bronniman, Isyah Campos, A.J. McCarty, and Drew Huff contributed three points apiece.
For nine Lion seniors — Campos, Huff, McCarty, Bronniman, Wilhelm, Strong, Brandon Hamrick, Cooper Swanzy, and Josh Baucom — Tuesday night marked the end of their high school basketball careers with two district championships and a pair of bi-district titles among their accomplishments.
“Those guys mean a lot,” Dalleh said. “Since I've been here they've pretty much been a part of most of my wins. I don't take credit for those, it's because of those guys. They bought into what I wanted to do, and in a hurry which was the best thing. They were young, they were hungry and I'm going to miss those guys for sure. This group is special and they're going to be successful in whatever they do.”