The Brownwood Lady Lions recorded their sixth victory in their last eight outings Tuesday night as they claimed a 47-41 home decision over the Class 5A Abilene High Lady Eagles at Warren Gym.
One of the most impressive performances of the young season from first-year head coach Heather Hohertz’s squad, the Lady Lions (6-4) relied on the inside game offensively and relentless defense to chalk up the win.
Brownwood finished with 38 rebounds, including 18 on the offensive end. The Lady Lions also attempted 42 free throws — and converted 23 — while Abilene High (3-6) was only 8-of-17 from the charity stripe.
“We improved greatly on our rebounding,” said Hohertz. “We blocked out and crashed the offensive boards hard. I told them before the game that (Abilene High) shouldn’t be able to block us out, and we exploited that. We had 18 offensive rebounds, so that tells you where most of our offense came from.”
The Lady Lions handed Abilene High its third straight loss since the Lady Eagles rallied for a 61-50 victory over Class 3A No. 19 Gatesville in the first round of the Polk Key-City Classic tournament this past weekend.
Eight Lady Lions scored, led by the 12 points of Trinity Ansons. Kelsey Gober chipped in seven points, trailed by six each from Hannah Mask, Patricia Wilson and Mallorie Maxwell. Sara Byrd and Amanda Gober contributed four points apiece, while Sydnie Darden finished with two points.
“Trinity has one of the highest shooting percentages on the team and for the last three weeks we’ve talked about getting the ball inside,” Hohertz said. “We started from the first play of the game getting the ball inside and it worked for us all night. We just kept feeding it in there. Even when they double-teamed (Trinity), we were still finding open people and hitting our shots.”
After scoring 17 points in the first period, the Lady Eagles mustered just 17 points the entire second half after jumping out to a six-point lead midway through the second period. Annie Newton and London Leong led Abilene High with 13 points and nine points, respectively.
“The defense was all over the place,” Hohertz said. “We didn’t allow their shooters to have very many open shots. The only time they had an open shot was when our rotation was off, but for the most part our rotation was great. Trinity stepped up big against their big girls in the middle.”
Down 21-15 with 3:38 left in the first half, a three-point play from Ansons, along with a bucket and two free throws from Kelsey Gober, allowed the Lady Lions to grab a 22-21 lead with 1:37 left in the first half. The second quarter ended with the game knotted at 24-all.
In the third period, Byrd scored on an offensive rebound at the 4:53 mark to put Brownwood in front for good and ignite a quarter-ending 11-4 run.
Leading 33-31, Maxwell sank two free throws and Wilson scored with nine seconds left to give Brownwood a 37-31 edge heading into the fourth period.
The Lady Lions converted just 4-of-12 free throws to open the fourth period, which allowed Abilene High to creep within a bucket at 41-39.
Leading 43-40 after two more free throws from Maxwell, Mask hit the game-clinching jumper — which rolled around and over the rim before falling back in — for a 45-40 Brownwood lead with just 49 seconds left. Mask later drained two free throws with six seconds left to cap the scoring.
The Lady Lions will be back in action at 2 p.m. Thursday against Lubbock Estacado in the Clyde tournament.
“We’re going back up the roller coaster,” Hohertz said. “Hopefully everybody is on the same page and we can continue to build from here.”