In a physical contest that often resembled a battle royale instead of a basketball game, the Brownwood Lady Lions were able to overcome a 14-point first-half deficit and claw back for a 53-49 double-overtime victory over the Bangs Lady Dragons Tuesday night at Warren Gym.
The victory was the third straight for the Lady Lions (3-2), despite the fact that Brownwood turned the ball over 31 times and converted just 5-of-17 free throws in a loosely officiated encounter. The Lady Lions were, however, able to pull down 44 rebounds — including 19 on the offensive end — and create 20 steals, which assisted in the comeback.
“We took another stride toward showing that the girls really want to win and really want to do something this year,” said Lady Lions first-year head coach Heather Hohertz. “I pretty much had the starters out there all of the third and fourth quarters and both overtimes, so that also shows the conditioning we’ve done has paid off.”
The Lady Dragons took a 12-11 lead with 1:10 left in the first period and held the advantage — which peaked at 27-13 with 3:04 remaining in the second quarter — until the 4:29 juncture of the fourth period. Bangs reclaimed a three-point lead with just over two minutes left in regulation, but could not hold off Brownwood.
“Brownwood wanted it more than we did,” said Bangs head coach Rex Beck “Turnovers and not blocking out in the second half really hurt us.”
Sara Byrd led the Lady Lions with a game-high 16 points and came through with the two biggest shots of the night.
Trailing 49-47 with 3:45 left in the second overtime following a bucket by Bangs’ Drea Evers, Byrd answered on the other end for Brownwood to pull the Lady Lions even at 49-all. With 2:55 remaining, Byrd scored in the paint to give the Lady Lions the lead for good, 51-49, as Hannah Mask tacked on an insurance bucket with 1:34 on the clock.
“Sara played almost the whole game except for about three minutes,” Hohertz said. “She was bleeding from the mouth, her eye was swollen, but she showed up to play tonight. She made some big shots, got some offensive rebounds and really helped us pull this game out.”
Amanda Gober contributed a season-high 15 points for the Lady Lions, trailed by nine from Patricia Wilson, six from Trinity Ansons, four from Mask and three from Tiara Brown.
Hillary Evans recorded 11 points to pace the Lady Dragons, followed by 10 each from Evers and Keirstin Williams, five points from Danielle Denbow, four each from Beth Mullins and Nette Evers and two points from Abby Hall.
The Lady Lions trailed 30-21 at halftime, but trimmed the deficit to 39-36 after three quarters as an improved defensive effort helped rejuvenate the offense.
“The first half we weren’t rotating very well,” Hohertz said of the defense. “I told them at halftime we can’t just sit back and let them shoot. Our main thing is our defense, and if we don’t have that we’re not going to win many games. I told them at halftime they had to come out and be active, get some steals and jump start our offense, and they did. They showed up and they were all over the court.”
Brownwood reduced the deficit to one point on a pair of occasions in the fourth period before Gober’s driving lay up finally pushed the Lady Lions back in front, 42-41, with 4:29 to go.
Bangs responded with buckets from Drea Evers and Nette Evers to reclaim a 45-42 lead with 2:09 left.
With 48 seconds left in the fourth period, Gober grabbed her own rebound after a missed three-pointer, scored on the putback, and was fouled en route to converting a traditional three-point play that eventually sent the game to overtime.
“Our offense in the first half was laid back and we didn’t want to attack,” Hohertz said. “They were laying off us, but we still have to attack the basket. At halftime we made some adjustments and started using some of our sets and got the ball inside. I told them if they started attacking the glass we’d get offensive rebounds, and we did.”
Bangs established its early double-digit lead by taking advantage of turnovers caused by its full court pressure.
The Lady Dragons reeled off 12 straight points to end the first period and start the second — most of which came directly off Lady Lion turnovers — to build a 22-11 advantage. Bangs chalked up the last eight points of the first period, with six coming during the last 27 seconds as Brownwood failed to get the ball to midcourt.
Trailing 27-13, Byrd and Brown drained three-pointers, which allowed the Lady Lions to quickly close the gap to 28-19. Byrd also sank a three-pointer to start the second half, which brought Brownwood to within 30-24 and ignited the rally.
Brownwood will return to action at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Jim Ned, while Bangs will take part in the Wichita Falls Fantasy of Lights tournament over the weekend.