In a battle of the only unbeaten teams remaining in District 5-4A boys basketball action, the Brownwood Lions put forth one of their better efforts in years against Abilene Wylie, but the No. 9 Bulldogs remain the team to beat in the league following a 65-45 victory Tuesday night at Warren Gym.

“It was good to compete with these guys and show that we can compete with a bigger team, but we had every opportunity to keep closing in,” said Lions second-year head coach Nadir Dalleh. “We did a lot of good things that got us back in the game and kept us close, and we were only down by eight or nine at one point in the second half. But we just kept giving the ball back to them and giving them more chances. When you give up turnovers and give them more opportunities to score they’re going to take advantage of it.”

Brownwood, which committed 27 turnovers unofficially, was led in scoring again by Zach Strong with 13 points followed by Sean Yoder with nine, Xavier Porter and Tommy Bowden with six apiece, A.J. McCarty and Blake Bronniman with four each and Isyah Campos with a three-pointer.

For Wylie, Sam King poured in 17 points, Steven Lopez added 10, Austin Brewer contributed nine and Kyle Roberts chipped in eight points.

The Lions (18-7, 2-1) trailed just 14-10 after one quarter and 36-23 at halftime, but were able to shave the Wylie (23-3) advantage to single digits early in the third period. Buckets from McCarty and Strong brought the Lions within nine points, 36-27, just 44 seconds into the second half.

A couple more scoring opportunities went for naught for the Lions, and Wylie finally scored 2:04 into the third period on a bucket by Roberts to regain a double-digit lead, 38-27. Brownwood mustered just four more points the rest of the quarter and faced a 48-31 deficit heading into the fourth period.

“There was a lot of banging going on inside, and we have a lot of sophomores and this is a little bigger stage than they’re used to,” Dalleh said. “I told the team this is a big boys game, we’re not down at the park. But we’d make a little run and have some open opportunities and we just couldn’t knock them down.”

Trailing by 20 early in the fourth period, consecutive three-pointers from Porter brought the Lions within 53-39 with 4:38 remaining, but Brownwood got no closer.

The Lions will venture to Sweetwater at 7:30 p.m. Friday as they look to wrap up the first half of 5-4A competition in sole possession of second place.