by MOSES A. LEOS III
For the better part of 25 minutes, Hays and Lehman basketball teams were deadlocked in a battle royale within the confines of Lobo Gym. Both teams were trading buckets and leads all evening long. It was no surprise, as the crosstown rivals battled not only for bragging rights, but for positioning within District 27-4A.
However, a Lady Rebel surge in the final seven minutes, as well as Lehman foul trouble late, played a significant part in Hays’ 55-38 win on Tuesday evening.
The game began with the Lady Lobos dominating the interior of the paint, snagging rebounds and blocking shots with much regularity. The Lobos’ efforts allowed them to transition the ball to the offensive end, attacking the Rebels underneath the bucket.
Unfortunately for the Lady Lobos, the advantage of size and length in the paint did not equate to points. Despite out-rebounding the Lady Rebels on both ends of the court, the Lobos failed to knock down buckets, missing many easy shots.
“We’ve worked on getting more rebounds quite a bit. The problem was that we did not finish. Our key players did not make enough plays tonight,” said Lady Lobo Head Coach Jaimie Coy.
As a result, Lehman could only hold an 8-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter would prove equally tight.
Hays would perform a better job of driving the lane, obtaining points and racking up the fouls on the Lady Lobos. Hays would hit 4 of 6 free throws in the quarter, helping them knot the score up at 16 at halftime.
Lehman would take slight control of the third quarter, using stiff defense and a hearty full-court press to create turnovers and scoring chances. Led by junior guard Olivia Marzullo, who finished the game with nine points, the Lady Lobos would gain a 27-25 advantage. However, Hays adjusted and found a way to defeat the press and find open shooters.
“We handled the press much better in the second half. We did not handle the ball good enough early on to get by their defense. (Good ball handling) helped quite a bit,” said Hays head girls basketball coach Danny Preuss.
Lehman could not pull away from Hays, as the Lady Lobos led by only a point going into the fourth.
It would be the Lady Rebels who would make the biggest plays when it mattered down the stretch. After the Lobos jumped out to a 33-30 lead to begin the fourth, the Rebels began a 7-1 run with seven minutes to play, kick started by a wide-open three pointer from the left wing by senior guard Lindsey McCurdy.
“It was a tight game at that point. Quite honestly, I dislike tight games quite a bit. So when I got the ball, I just took the shot. It changed the game,” mused McCurdy, who scored a game high 18 points on the night.
That three pointer took the wind out of the Lady Lobos’ sails, as the team struggled to get any more offense generated afterwards. Ashley Stephens directed the struggles to the improved motivation from the Rebel players.
“Hays began to place a lot of pressure on our guards,” Stephens said, “that made it difficult to get the ball into the post.
The final seven minutes proved to be a complete reversal of the events of the first half of play. Hays controlled the paint, while the Lobos could not get anything started on offense. It was foul trouble on Lehman that made the difference.
“Once we got the (Lehman post players) in foul trouble, they got frustrated. We stayed on them, pressuring them constantly. Sure enough, both would foul out,” McCurdy said.
Stephens and Lehman senior post Ariana Gallegos fouled out of the contest with 2 minutes remaining. Hays would knock down 8 of 12 free throws in waning moments, en route to the 17 point win.
Afterwards, Coy was disappointed in the way her players performed in the fourth quarter, stating, “We just got beat. We gave the game away.”
The play of the defense in the second half troubled the Lady Lobos head coach the most.
“We wanted to switch on screens. Unfortunately, we had people pick and choose what they wanted to do. We need consistency. We insisted on doing other things,” said Coy.
Stephens also mirrored her coaches’ sentiments. “We played strong in the beginning. We just slowed down at the end of the game. We did not play good enough defense. We let it go.”
Preuss marveled at the “staying power” his team showed throughout the game.
“We know that this is Lehman’s year. Four of their starting five players are seniors, all of which they rely on quite a bit. However, we stressed that we were a better team, girl for girl,” said Preuss post-game.
McCurdy talked about the belief she and her teammates had in the latter part of the game, “Coach Preuss told us to just keep playing hard and we will come out with a win. Sure enough, more and more we believed we could do it.”
With the victory, Hays improves their overall record to 20-7, 6-2 in district play. Lehman falls to 14-12, 4-3 in district, having now lost their last two district contests.
Both teams will be in action on Friday. Hays hosts Kerrville Tivy in Bales Gym at 7 p.m.
Lehman travels to Boerne Champion, where the varsity game also begins at 7 p.m.