With one win to their credit in their first six District 16-4A games, the Lady Lions of Brownwood knew they would have to scratch and claw their way through the final four league contests to keep their fading playoff hopes alive.
Friday night at Warren Gym, head coach Nikki Heath’s troops did just that as they rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter for a 60-59 overtime win over the Lady Roos of Killeen.
Jensen Knickerbocker scored seven of the Lady Lions’ eight points in the extra session, including the final two on a pair of free throws with 1.4 seconds left.
“I knew my teammates were behind me, so that helped a lot to know they had confidence in me,” Knickerbocker said. “When you have your team behind you, it fills you with confidence and I knew I was going to make them.”
Knickerbocker was fouled in the back court right after the Lady Lions inbounded the ball needing to go the length of the court after Killeen’s Dejanae Fountain put the Lady Roos in front, 59-58, with 2.7 seconds left.
“I was telling the kids to get the ball in Jensen’s hands and hopefully they’ll foul her, and that’s what happened,” Heath said. “She’s our best free throw shooter percentage wise.”
Knickerbocker, who finished with a game-high 19 points, also drained a three-pointer in overtime, which gave the Lady Lions a 58-55 lead with 1:20 left. But Brownwood did not score again until the decisive free throws were converted.
Brownwood’s chance for victory looked bleak with 6:06 left in the game. Katie Chastain had just fouled out, and at that time she led the Lady Lions with 11 points.
Ja’Neece Quinones then sank 1-of-2 free throws following the foul, which gave the Lady Roos their largest lead, 48-34.
But the Lady Lions slowly whittled away at the lead and scored the final nine points of regulation to force overtime.
LaCresha Williams scored eight of her 14 points in the fourth period, while Ashley Ledlow — who added 11 points — drilled the tying free throw with 21 seconds left in the fourth period.
Killeen was in possession of a 52-43 advantage with 3:24 left, but did not score the rest of the fourth period.
“We’ve never been a team that’s given up easily,” Knickerbocker said. “We’re the Lady Lions and we’re going to fight back. We had a great crowd behind us and a great coaching staff that never gave up on us. When you have people that keep building you up and don’t want to let you down, it makes you want to fight that much harder.”
The Lady Lions used a 10-0 run in the second quarter to build a 27-23 halftime, but Killeen dominated the third period — outscoring Brownwood 22-5 — to build a 45-32 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
“I’m a firm believer in battling until the clock says 0:00,” Heath said. “They fought the whole entire time and kept chipping away at the lead. They did a great job today.”
Fouls plagued both teams as three Lady Roos — Imani Dunn, Jasmine Pitts and Quinones — fouled out, while the Lady Lions lost Chastain and point guard Hailey Williams.
Every member of the Killeen roster scored, led by Breanna Shaw’s 16 points.
The loss avenged a 47-32 defeat at Killeen (14-15, 2-5) on Jan. 9, a game Heath felt the Lady Lions (12-15, 2-5) had several opportunities to win.
Brownwood also likely moved into a four-way tie for third place in the 16-4A standings. No. 8 Copperas Cove dropped University to 2-5, while No. 13 Midway was playing Waco High. A Midway win would also make Waco High 2-5.
“We have to stay in the moment and take one game at a time,” Heath said. “We won this game and we’re still in the hunt. If we win the next game we’re still in the hunt. If we keep doing that, we’re in the playoffs. It’s do or die for us and today they left it all on the court.”