In a rare, season-opening all-Nolan County matchup between schools from different classi-fications, the larger school used a fast start to come out on top Tuesday.
Sweetwater’s Kinsey Browning hit a 3-pointer just 26 seconds into the game, giving her team a lead it never relinquished, as the 3A Lady Mustangs defeated the 1A Lady Hornets 57-45 at Highland’s gym.
The early trey by Browning sparked Sweetwater to a dominating first half that ended with the visitors enjoying a comfortable 20-point lead of 33-13. Highland didn’t hit its first basket until the 2:37 mark of the first quarter, and Sweetwater led 20-3 before the Lady Hornets swished their second field goal near the end of the period. At that point of the game, Browning had outscored Highland 9-5 on the strength of three 3-pointers, and the 5-3 junior guard finished with four en route to a game-high 19 points.
Browning received ample help in the scoring department from Taylor McKoy, a 5-8 senior post who had 16 points. The two combined for 26 of Sweetwater’s first 29 points until cooling off in the second half.
Highland finally warmed up after its slow start, but the state-ranked Lady Hornets — coming off a 19-8 season and ranked No. 12 in Class 1A, Division II — never got closer than 11 points (47-36) with 5:11 left. Sweet-water built its lead back to 57-39 until Highland’s Kara Hughey made a pair of treys in the final 30 seconds.
Sierra Allen (14), Hughey (13) and Callie Sandusky (10) all scored in double figures for Highland. Hughey con-nected on three 3-pointers, and all her points came in the second half.
Sweetwater, which is at Lake View on Friday, also got six points from Aubra Hendrix, five from Kendra Crosson, Alicia Finn and Brittany Lashinski and one from Suede Shirley. The JV girls also won their game, 44-22.
Highland, which used a 13-2 run to cut into a 22-point deficit (45-23) after three quarters, also received seven points from Shyan Womack and one point from Jennifer McCain. It will travel to Eula on Friday.