Lehman girls off to hot start heading to Rebel Classic

Lehman will be playing without star Bria Cheatham, who has averaged double figures in both points and rebounds this season in helping her team to an 8-2 start. The Lady Lobos are still confident heading into the Rebel Classic, which begins Thursday. (Photo by Judy Cooper)

by WES FERGUSON

The 8-2 Lehman Lobos will likely be without their most explosive player when they suit up for the Rebel Classic in Buda this week.

Bria Cheatham, who had been averaging a team-leading double-double of 15 points and nearly 13 boards a game, injured her knee in the first match of last week’s Navarro Classic in Seguin.

“We don’t know how long she will be out,” head girls basketball coach Jamie Coy said Monday, adding the team still doesn’t know the extent of Cheatham’s injury. “We totally had to readjust our offense. We lost a key rebounder too.”

Cheatham had scored eight points in the first quarter of the tournament opener against Center Point on Thursday. But she hurt her knee at the beginning of the second frame, allowing Center Point back in the game as the Lobos figured out how to adjust to the loss of their key player.

“They kind of caught up a little in the second, but after that there was no catching up,” Coy said. “We just played really solid defense. We were hustling, we transitioned the ball really well and were looking down the court for a lot of 3-on-2 and 2-on-1 opportunities.”

Transition buckets will be one key to Lehman’s ongoing success, Coy said. The other is field goal percentage. The players have been getting plenty of looks at the basket, but they have only been connecting on around 36 percent of those shots.

“If we raise the bar to start shooting 50 or 60 percent, we’ll shine,” Coy said.

In the second game of the Navarro Classic, the Lobos were forced to play catchup after post Ariana Gallegos fouled out in the first quarter and the team fell behind Falls City 14-8.

“Basically, we ran guards the rest of the time,” Coy said.

Lehman High fought back to tie the game 38-38 in the fourth quarter. But with less than two minutes to play, the Lobos settled for a jump shot that missed the mark, then turned over the ball on their next possession en route to a 44-39 defeat.

In their third and final game of the tournament, the Lobos once again fell behind early in a sneak preview against district rival Lockhart. Despite missing Cheatham’s help on the glass, Lehman rode a 14-6 burst in the second quarter to a 25-20 halftime lead.

Lockhart tried a full-court press to counter the Lobos’ high-tempo offense, but Coy said her players easily broke the press and never let go of their lead, holding on for a 54-50 win.

“It was us taking care of the ball in the fourth quarter,” she said. “We hustled up and down the court more than they did. They tried to be a running team, but they had a lot of turnovers.”

Along the way, the Lobos learned they can win without Cheatham. They faced Austin High on Tuesday and now head into the Rebel Classic, which runs Thursday through Saturday at Hays High School.

“We’re just going to work on taking care of the ball,” Coy said, “making sure we make smart decisions offensively and defensively and play our game.”

Lehman will open play in the Rebel Classic Thursday morning against Hendrickson. Tipoff in Hays’ Red Gym is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.

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