LITTLE ELM — Braswell had to play its best game this season to keep things close against a challenging Sherman team.
Unfortunately, a flat start and a 22-point performance from the Bearcats' Kemonte Dowdy kept the Bengals from mounting a comeback in a 66-51 home loss Tuesday in their District 5-5A opener.
"We knew how good they were," Braswell coach Nick Sekeres said. "Our guys had to play really good basketball to pull out a win, but we made a few mistakes early on and in the middle of the third to put us out of reach."
Braswell (9-8, 0-1) fell into an early 11-2 hole, forcing Sekeres to call a timeout. The Bengals trailed by 13 by the end of the first quarter.
The Bengals then caught a spark of offense in the second quarter from Brandon Barlow, who scored on three straight possessions, forcing a Sherman timeout with 4:33 remaining. Barlow scored nine of his team-high 17 points in the frame to cut the Sherman lead to eight, 32-24 at halftime. MJ Leslie buried a 3-pointer each frame to give him 12 points, and Kiran Anderson added 11.
"We kept the first half respectable after our slow start, and a lot of that had to do with Brandon," Sekeres said. "Early in the third is where we played our best."
The Bengals began the half with the third of Leslie's four treys, then Barlow recorded a steal and a breakaway layup to cut what once was a 15-point Sherman lead early in the second quarter to only three.
After that, Braswell's offense fizzled and the defense couldn't keep up with Dowdy, who found his stroke again, adding eight points in the frame. The Bengals were outscored 17-2 in the final 3:26 of the third.
"When Dowdy gets hot, you can see how he can turn a five-point lead to 11 points in a hurry," Sekeres said.
The Bengals tried their best to slow the game down in the fourth quarter, but they didn't get any closer than 14 points.
Braswell hosts Fort Worth Trinity Valley on Thursday then will come back from winter break to play in the Bridgeport Tournament.
"We really made strides at this point last year, so I'm hoping we can have some of the same success to give us a spark for the rest of district competition," Sekeres said.
JIMMY ISBELL can be reached at 817-781-0379 and via Twitter at @Jimmy_Isbell12.
Sherman (11-5, 1-0) — Kemonte Dowdy 22, Ravon Hester 7, Jeremy Norvell 11, Blaise Bentsen 9, Jaylyn Cleamons 13, Nathaniel Omayebu 4.
Braswell (9-8, 0-1) — Kiran Anderson 11, MJ Leslie 12, Mark Kunz 3, Brandon Barlow 17, Tariq Flemings 2, Matthew Edwards 4.