by WES FERGUSON
Clemens stifled Lehman’s high-octane transition game with a half-court trap on Monday night at the Lobo Den, and a trio of tall Buffalo defenders took away the Lady Lobos’ post game in the paint.
Lehman resorted to a string of outside jump shots that just wouldn’t fall on their home court as the girls basketball team dropped its District 27-4A opener to the Buffaloes 56-40.
Lehman was playing without forward Bria Cheatham, who suffered a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago. But head coach Jamie Coy rejected the notion that her players were still reeling from the loss of their leading scorer and rebounder.
“It’s not Clemens. We beat ourselves,” Coy said. “We didn’t play our game. We let them dictate our offense to us. We have to buy into the fact that (our system) works. It’s been there. We’ve played better teams than that and been successful.”
Even so, there’s no denying the Lobos started 7-2 with Cheatham but have lost five of seven games with her out of the starting lineup.
The Lobos (9-7, 0-1) will have a chance to rebound Friday at Lockhart, a team they have already beaten in tournament action this season. Coy said she will have to see more inspiration from her players if they hope to claim a second win from the Lions.
“If we play like tonight, we won’t beat them again,” Coy said. “We mentally weren’t there. I obviously didn’t prepare them. I put the blame on myself.”
Lehman hung with Clemens for the first several minutes on Monday, capturing a 10-7 lead midway through the opening quarter on a basket off the glass by 6-foot-1 post Ariana Gallegos. But the Buffaloes’ 6-footer Zenobia Winbush answered with a bank shot of her own from the free throw line.
The Buffaloes then pressed senior point guard Amara Smith into throwing a pass out of bounds, and Winbush took advantage of the turnover with a jump shot from one step within the three-point line. The ball rattled around the rim and fell in, giving the Buffaloes a lead they never relinquished.
The deficit widened until a couple of minutes to go in the second quarter, when Lehman’s Olivia Marzullo tried to rally her team with a running jumper from the free-throw line, bringing the score to 25-20.
But the Buffaloes answered again. With Lehman’s inside enforcer Gallegos sitting on the bench with foul trouble, Winbush extended over her shorter Lobos defender for an easy bucket in the paint.
Two subsequent turnovers by the Lobos resulted in five points by the Buffaloes’ Zareia Moore, who picked off a pass and went the distance for a layup, then nailed a three pointer with three seconds left to give the visitors a 32-20 halftime edge.
Winbush led all scorers with 23 points. Smith paced the Lobos with 17, while Gallegos added 8 despite fouling out midway through the third quarter.
“I think that we were nervous in our first district game,” Coy said. “We’ll evaluate to see what we did wrong and beat them the second time around.”
Lehman will have another shot against Clemens (6-14, 1-0) on Jan. 17 in Schertz. Cheatham, a junior, said she will have surgery next week to repair a torn meniscus.
“I’m done for the season,” Cheatham said.