Brownwood girls basketball team continues push toward playoff return

Mike Lee
Special to the Bulletin
Brownwood's Tessa Goodwin (20) goes up for a shot during Friday's game against Wylie at Bulldog Gym on Dec. 17, 2021. The Lady Lions struggled to score early and couldn't come back in the 57-26 loss.

The Brownwood girls basketball team is on track to return to the playoffs after last Friday’s 72-24 win over Gatesville. The Lady Lions missed the postseason last year for the first time in Heather Hohertz’s 13 seasons as head coach.

The win left the Lady Lions 18-10 overall and 1-2 in the challenging District 6-4A, which includes No. 11-ranked Glen Rose (25-4) and No. 24 Stephenville (19-9). The Brownwood girls play at Stephenville at 6 p.m. Friday to complete the first half of the district schedule.

With a five-team district, Brownwood needs to finish ahead of at least one team to qualify for the playoffs. The win over Gatesville put the Lady Lions in position to do just that.

Brownwood's Kynslee Walker (4) drives to the basket during Friday's game against Wylie at Bulldog Gym on Dec. 17, 2021. The Lady Lions struggled to score early and couldn't come back in the 57-26 loss.

“We obviously struggled last year playing a lot of juniors,” said Hohertz, whose team finished 9-15 overall and 2-7 in district last season. “Our players are hungry this year – not only to return to the playoffs, but to win more games and have a good record. We’ve won 18 games this season.”

It hasn’t been easy, though. Senior guard Naysa Leach suffered an ACL knee injury last summer, and with vigorous rehabilitation, made it back in time for the District 6-4A schedule. Leach made a 3-point shot that helped Brownwood rally to win 37-30 Jan. 4 at Graham. She also scored 10 points, including three 3-pointers, in last week’s win over Gatesville.

“She’s not 100 percent yet, but having here back out there makes a difference,” Hohertz said of Leach. “She can take care of the ball and hit open shots from the perimeter.”

Brownwood's Kassidy Wooten (22) lets go of a shot during Friday's game against Wylie at Bulldog Gym on Dec. 17, 2021. The Lady Lions struggled to score early and couldn't come back in the 57-26 loss.

The Lady Lions also are without junior guard Kassidy Wooten, one of their best 3-point shooters who is out with a broken foot. “We hope Kassidy will be back in time for the playoffs,” Hohertz said.

Junior guard Mady Pyle has produced the bulk of the 3-point goals lately, including 24 points and six treys against Gatesville last week.

Pyle’s 3-point shooting has eased the scoring load that had fallen on 5-foot-10 senior forward Tessa Goodwin, an all-state player who averaged a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds per game last season. Goodwin is averaging 11 points and 10 rebounds this season despite often drawing the attention of two or three defenders.

“We’ve got more scoring around Tessa this year,” Hohertz said. “Her scoring is down a little, but we’re having a better season as a team. She’s not scoring 20 points a game, but she prefers team success over individual accolades.”

Another plus for Brownwood has been Dakota Simpson, a 5-6 sophomore guard who was promoted from the JV after Wooten’s injury and is now in the starting lineup.

“We struggled early to put together a complete game,” Hohertz said. “But when we played Fort Worth Nolan (a 49-40 loss Dec. 29 in the Texas Bank Classic), we finally figured out how to put together a complete game. We’ve played pretty good defense in district. We just need take better care of the basketball and execute consistently on offense.”

Around the area

The Brownwood boys opened their District 6-4A schedule last Friday with a 91-66 win over the Gatesville Hornets as 6-foot-5 forward Christian Kinzler scored 22 points and guard Jakob Hataway added 16 points. The Lions outscored the Hornets 51-29 in the second half to win going away.

The Lions (17-7 overall) had a bye in district on Tuesday. They will resume their district schedule at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Stephenville.

The Early boys (17-8 overall) improved to 4-2 in District 8-3A with Tuesday’s 58-25 win over the Bangs Dragons. Jeremy Brown scored 21 points and Vic Cooper added 16 points for the Longhorns, who play at Comanche on Friday.

The Early girls (10-14 overall) improved to 4-4 in District 8-3A with Tuesday’s 48-23 win over Bangs. The Early girls also play Comanche on Friday.

The May girls (16-9 overall) are 1-2 in District 13-1A after losses to Eula 48-33 and Cross Plains 39-26. May will seek to get back on track Friday against Baird.

In District 29-2A girls, No. 15 Harper, No. 20 Mason and No. 21 San Saba remained tied for district lead with 6-1 records after Tuesday’s games. San Saba (22-6 overall) beat Goldthwaite 45-34 on Tuesday, Mason beat Center Point 68-17 and Harper beat Johnson City 73-22. At 3-4 in district, Goldthwaite (18-10 overall) is probably in line for the No. 4 playoff seed.

The Goldthwaite boys took the lead in District 29-2A with Tuesday’s 52-48 home win over two-time defending district champion San Saba. The Armadillos (12-8 overall, 4-1 in district) controlled the Eagles’ 3-point shooting with tight defense, but Goldthwaite senior guard Jackson Patrick scored 15 points and freshman guard Luke Sanderson added 14 points.

Sanderson made two free throws with 15 seconds to left in regulation to force overtime with the game tied 44-44. In overtime, Sanderson, senior forward Cason Guthrie and senior guard Seth Gardner combined to make 6 of 7 free throws for Goldthwaite.

Trailing 50-45 with 1:21 left in overtime, the Armadillos allowed the Eagles to expire 1:13 off the clock before fouling. Senior guard Reagan Mejia led San Saba with 19 points.