by MOSES LEOS III
As the regular season winds down in girls basketball, the race for playoff positioning begins.
For Lehman head coach Jamie Coy and her Lady Lobos, the road to a playoff berth is predicated on one simple rule: Just win games.
First up, Lehman had to get by a Seguin squad, which upset state ranked Schertz Clemens on Jan. 22.
While Seguin challenged the Lobos in the early going, Lehman concocted a tremendous second half surge to overwhelm the Lady Matadors 66-45 in the Lobo Den.
It was a bit of a shaky start for both teams, as neither squad could adequately take advantage of each other’s miscues. Both teams transitioned the floor often, but failed to garner consistent buckets. Seguin (11-19, 4-7) eventually hit enough shots to jump out to a 9-5 lead.
The lethargic style of play went away rather quickly in the second quarter, as both teams began to warm up from the floor. Lehman started off with a big 7-0 run which cut Seguin’s lead to 14-12 at the eight-minute mark.
However, the Lady Lobo defense struggled at times to contain the Lady Matadors’ fast breaks. Just as Lehman would transition the floor to knock down a bucket, Seguin was right there to counter.
Even with the back-and-forth gameplay, Lehman’s ability to score en masse helped them regain ground, only trailing 26-24 at halftime.
The edge for the Lady Lobos became the team’s ability to quicken the tempo, moving the ball quickly down court and setting up for easy shots.
“When we run the court, we take a look at the defense and constantly scan for open shooters,” said sophomore guard Angel Cruz, who was a big part of the Lobo attack on Seguin’s defense.
Senior post Ashley Stephens, who finished with 12 points, described the frantic pace both teams played at that point.
“It’s a rush. Everyone is constantly trying to get open, to get to the basket. We just needed to get open to hit our baskets,” said Stephens.
The third quarter saw the Lady Lobos utilize that offensive mentality to much success, as the team stretched out the Seguin defense, overwhelming them with their size and speed. Lehman’s ability to control the tempo completely changed the flow of the game, allowing the Lady Lobos to completely seize momentum.
By the end of the third quarter, Lehman had garnered a sizeable 45-35 lead, outscoring Seguin 21-9 in the quarter.
Lady Lobo senior guard Brea Cheatham became the cog which turned the Lehman machine, as her team high 14 points helped guide Lehman’s sensational third quarter. Cheatham attributed the team’s success toward a more focused effort on the floor.
“In the first half, we ran our offense the way we wanted to. That simply did not work. The second half, we played to how (Coach Coy) wanted us to play. In the end, we hustled more and put forth more effort,” said Cheatham, whose play became a beacon for the rest of the team.
Seguin would try to mount a small rally in the fourth quarter, but to no avail. Lehman would sink shots down the stretch, eventually claiming the 21 point victory.
The play of the post players made the biggest difference in the second half. While the scoring ability of Stephens and senior Ariana Gallegos, who scored 11 points, kept Lehman ahead, their presence in the paint assisted the Lobos in out-rebounding Seguin by a considerable margin.
“In the first meeting with Seguin, they out-rebounded us. We had to make the necessary corrections to ensure that we could win the rebounding effort,” said Coy.
Ultimately, Coy was proud of the way her Lady Lobos regrouped after the slow start.
“We normally start off slow. However, we picked it up and executed well. The biggest thing was that the defense turned it around; we had been preaching defense all week long. The play of the defense played a big part in our getting a win,” said Coy.
Stephens talked post-game about how much this Lobo squad wanted this victory.
“In the second half, we came out with fire. We wanted to win badly,” Stephens recounted, acknowledging the team’s want to stay in control of their playoff lives.
Lehman’s victory is an important one, as the Lady Lobos hold on to the fourth and final playoff spot in District 27-4A. The team improves to 16-14 on the year, 6-5 in district play.
The Lady Lobos will travel to Kerrville Tivy on Jan. 29 for another big district game. Tivy currently holds the third place spot behind Hays.
Leading the Lady Matadors were senior guard Shawna Cole with a game high 17 points, junior guard Sabrina Segovia finished with nine and senior post Kristi Garza with eight. Olivia Marzullo helped the Lady Lobo effort with 10 points in the game.