A 17-2 run during the third period allowed the Brownwood Lions to distance themselves from the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs, then they held on down the stretch for a 69-63 win in District 16-4A action at Warren Gym Tuesday night.
Deandray McDaniel scored 27 of his 29 points after halftime to lead the Lions (13-11, 2-2), who converted 12-of-17 crucial free throws in the fourth period after missing their first five and 8-of-14 in the first half.
Copperas Cove (5-19, 2-2) received 18 points from Raheem Odomes and 12 from Robert Griffin, but the Bulldawgs’ fourth-quarter rally was hindered by 2-of-10 shooting from the charity stripe during the final eight minutes.
The lead exchanged hands seven times through the first 2 1/2 quarters before the Lions grabbed a 47-35 advantage with 1:59 left in the third quarter.
“We went to a little press there and that all started it,” said Lions head coach Shane Perkins. “They started throwing the ball away and we got some easy shots out of it. It just kind of compounded from there.”
Trailing 33-30 at the 5:12 mark of the third period, the Lions reeled off six straight points to grab their first lead of the second half.
Russell Foy, who finished with nine points, sank two free throws to close the gap to a point, then McDaniel put the Lions up for good, 34-33, with 4:29 left in the quarter. Foy added another bucket before the Bulldawgs called time out.
Don’nell Greer’s bucket cut the Lions’ lead to 36-35, but Brownwood responded with 11 points in a row to build its largest advantage of the night.
McDaniel scored seven of the points, Foy added two more and Zane Smith — who chalked up 14 points — tacked on the other two for the Lions.
Copperas Cove cut Brownwood’s lead to 51-42 by the end of the third period, then scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to trim the Lions’ lead to 51-49 with 6:07 left.
McDaniel pushed the advantage back to five points, 57-52, at the 4:15 mark, but Cove tied the game at 59 on a three-pointer by Brandon Boast with 2:19 left.
Brownwood then answered by converting five straight free throws to regain a five-point lead, 64-59, with 54 seconds left. McDaniel sank four while Mike Thompson — who scored seven points off the bench — broke the tie by nailing 1-of-2 attempts.
Greer cut the deficit to 64-61, but Cove got no closer as Brownwood made 5-of-6 free throws to ice the game.
“The first two minutes of the fourth quarter were pretty bad,” Perkins said. “But we told the kids to take care of the ball, play good defense and we’ll be okay. We did a great job from that point on, got the lead back up and hit free throws down the stretch.”
The Lions will complete the first half of the district schedule Friday at No. 7 Killeen (24-2, 4-0), which defeated Midway, 67-42, Tuesday night.