MIKE LEE: Brownwood Lions basketball team off to strong start under new coach
Two factors eased the transition for first-year Brownwood boys’ basketball coach Will Parker – experienced players and a program that already was successful.
Brownwood opens its District 6-4A schedule by hosting Gatesville at 8 p.m. Friday at Warren Gym. The Lions have started 16-7 under Parker with a roster filled with six seniors, including five who start. Also, Parker took over a program from his longtime friend, Nadir Dalleh, who built a winning program with a 101-52 record and two district championships during the previous five seasons at Brownwood.
Dalleh left after last season to become head coach at Howard Payne University.
“They already had an established program, they’ve had success and they’ve got good kids coming,” Parker said. “We’re trying to take it to the next level and get to the regional tournament.
“I was hired in May, and so I came down toward the end of school and met the players and watched them practice. I think the most important thing in building a program is establishing relationships and building trust. I was able to start that process early on.”
The five senior starters begin with point guard Jakob Hataway, who pushes the ball up court in Parker’s fast-paced system while averaging 15.9 points and 5.4 assists per game.
Luke Moss and Christian Kinzler, a pair of 6-foot-5 seniors, give the Lions a solid inside presence. Moss is averaging 14.5 points while shooting 61 percent on 2-point field goal attempts, plus he’s averaging 12.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.1 steals. Kinzler averages 13.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and is shooting 63 percent from the field overall.
“Those two (Moss and Kinzler) cause matchup problems for other teams,” Parker said.
Bryson Monroe, another senior, averages 14.6 points and 4.7 rebounds. Weston Burns, the fifth senior starter, is Brownwood’s defensive specialist.
Sophomore Ike Hall, who’s averaging 6.5 points, and junior Thad Hinds, the Lions’ leading scorer in two of their last three games, are key players off the bench.
The biggest transition Brownwood’s players had to make was adjusting to Parker’s up-tempo style. Dalleh coached multiple styles in his five years at Brownwood, but last year’s Lions had to rely on defense and playing a slower pace to have success.
“We play up and down for 32 minutes,” Parker said. “We press the whole way and shoot a lot of 3s. The kids enjoy playing that style. We’re scoring a lot of points and trying not to give up too many.”
The Lions average 79.5 points per game and allow just under 70.
“A lot of teams say they want to play fast, but it takes a good work ethic and a lot of dedication to make it work,” Parker said. “This style creates opportunities for more players because you have to sub a lot more when you play fast. It gets more players involved.”
In addition to Brownwood’s 16-7 record, District 6-4A includes Glen Rose (16-4), Lampasas (13-10), Gatesville (11-13) and Stephenville (6-15). Four of the five teams will qualify for the playoffs.
"It should be a dog fight for the playoff seedings,” Parker said. “Glen Rose has a new coach, but they kept the same style of play. Lampasas has the best player in the district (senior point guard Nate Borchardt), and most of Stephenville’s player were in football until the Christmas break.
“Gatesville’s record isn’t indicative of the team they have. They played some really good teams in nondistrict, and they have a lot of juniors with experience. There should be a lot of good games over the next month and a half.”
Around the area
The Brownwood girls won 17 of 25 nondistrict games, including six of their final seven before opening their District 6-4A schedule last week. However, the Lady Lions started district 0-2 last week after losses to state-ranked teams from Glen Rose 41-26 and Lampasas 55-43. The biggest reason for the two losses was field-goal shooting. The Lady Lions made just 23 of their 93 shots (25 percent) from the field last week.
Brownwood will seek its first district win at home at 6 p.m. Friday against Gatesville in Warren Gym. The Lady Hornets are 4-13 overall and 0-1 in district.
Eleventh-ranked Glen Rose (24-4 overall) and No. 13 Lampasas (23-6) lead the five-team district at 2-0 while No. 23 Stephenville (17-9) is 0-1.
Vic Cooper scored 25 points Tuesday as the Early boys (15-8 overall) beat Eastland 52-42. The win improved the Longhorns to 2-2 in District 8-3A. The Early boys are at Dublin on Friday.
The Early girls (8-14) fell 51-38 Tuesday at Eastland despite 16 points from Madison Torrez. The Lady Longhorns are 2-4 in district.
Four girls’ teams from District 29-2A are state ranked – No. 12 San Saba (21-5), No. 17 Harper (17-4), No. 23 Goldthwaite (18-8) and No. 25 Mason (18-8). San Saba leads the district at 5-0, with Harper and Mason tied for second at 4-1, and Goldthwaite fourth at 3-2. Goldthwaite hosts Harper on Friday and San Saba on Tuesday in two crucial contests for the Lady Eagles.
Two area Class 1A girls’ teams are state ranked. Priddy (18-4) has worked its way to No. 5 despite multiple injuries that have left the Lady Pirates with just seven available players. Also, Richland Springs (19-5), which split two games with Priddy, is ranked No. 21.