Three nights after nearly shooting Big Spring out of its own gym in a 24-point road win, the Sweetwater girls basketball team was forced to go inside to stay with state-ranked Brown-wood here Friday.
The new strategy worked pretty well for most of the evening as the team’s starting posts, Kendra Crosson and Alicia Finn, both scored in double figures for the Lady Mustangs. But Brown-wood’s outside shooting — and Sara Byrd in particular — was the difference as the No. 21 Lady Lions took con-trol in the second half to pull out a 46-39 win.
Sweetwater (1-3 district, 16-13) trailed most of the game, but went ahead 21-18 after a 7-0 run to start the third quarter. After Brown-wood regained the lead by hitting a 3-pointer with 2:51 remaining, Finn hit two free throws to give Sweetwater a 25-24 advantage. But at that point, Byrd hit her fourth and fifth 3-pointers for the Lady Lions to spark a 13-0 run from which the Lady Mustangs never recovered as they fell into a three-way tie for third place with Big Spring and Snyder, while Brownwood improved to 3-1 and moved within a game of first-place Wylie.
Sweetwater put together a mini-surge in the fourth quarter by cutting Brown-wood’s lead to four, 38-34, with 4:55 to play, but could never get any closer.
“The girls played hard, but we let No. 11 (Byrd) have too many wide open looks,” said head coach Jerry McSherry. “I feel like if we’d executed better defensively, it could have been different. She’s just too good a shooter to leave alone.”
Finn and Crosson had 12 points each to pace Sweet-water. Taylor McKoy added seven, Kinsey Browning five and Aubra Hendrix three, including Sweetwater’s only 3-pointer with 15 seconds left in the contest.
Sweetwater managed just 11 field goals to Brown-wood’s 14, but made 16 of 23 free throws to the Lady Lions’ 11 of 22. Sweetwater has another key game on Tuesday as it travels to Snyder, which lost 59-53 at Big Spring on Friday, to begin the second half of District 5-3A play.