by MOSES LEOS III
On Tuesday night, the Lady Lobos lost 71-60 to Schertz Clemens, forcing them into a winner-take-all playoff with Boerne Champion for a playoff spot. Details to come later this week.
But it was a different scene on a night when Lehman fans bid farewell to six seniors as the Lady Lobos would post one of their most important basketball victories of the 2012 season.
Lehman’s defense would force 23 turnovers off of the Lockhart Lady Lions, en route to a decisive 72-37 win in the Lobo Den on Feb. 1.
Early on, nerves and anxiety hindered the Lobos, as Lehman began the contest rather sluggishly. Inconsistent passing, fundamental errors and some missed easy buckets translated into a 15-4 Lehman lead; a lead which could have been much more substantial.
“The first quarter woes were a result of the nerves and anxiety of Senior Night. Our starting five were all seniors; all of them wanted to go out and play well for family and friends. We were a little out of balance due to that. They were a bit nervous,” said Lehman head coach Jamie Coy.
Nerves continued to disrupt the Lady Lobos style of play, as Lehman would engage in a turnover parade with Lockhart. In the second quarter, both Lehman and Lockhart combined for 20 turnovers, eleven committed by the Lady Lobos. Lehman’s issues allowed Lockhart to crawl back into the contest, cutting the Lady Lobos’ double digit lead to 21-17 with four minutes remaining in the half. Lockhart was led by juniors Raven Reed and Cassandra McClelland, who both scored a team high 11 points.
That would be the closest Lockhart would get to the Lady Lobos for the remainder of the contest. From that point on, the game would belong to Lehman senior post player Ariana Gallegos. From the three-minute mark of the second quarter until the end of the game, Gallegos would score 21 of her game high 27 points, block three of her five total shots and force at least four of the 23 total Lady Lion turnovers.
With Gallegos’ help, the Lady Lobos emerged from their lethargic start. Lehman’s lead would balloon once and for all, as the team took a 32-20 advantage into the halftime break.
“We were not playing on all cylinders during the first half. We were a little overconfident, which showed in our play during that time. We as a team, especially the seniors, wanted to fix the silly turnovers, to clean the game up. This win was a total team effort,” said Gallegos.
The third quarter showed just how pivotal Gallegos was to the Lehman effort. Gallegos’ size and strength allowed her to domineer over Lockhart’s interior defenders. As a result, Gallegos had little to no problems driving the lane and knocking down easy layups. Ariana would finish the third quarter scoring 17 points, posing a tremendous problem for the Lockhart defense.
Eventually, the Lady Lobos would overwhelm Lockhart. The steady diet of Gallegos offensive capabilities, along with the help of sophomore guard Cheyenne Morgan and senior guard Bria Cheatham, both of whom scored eight points, and stellar, stifling defense paved the way for Lehman to cruise to a 35 point victory.
“That’s the way we should be playing,” beamed Coy, ecstatic at the way her squad finished the contest.
With this win, Lehman improves to 17-15 on the season. Most importantly, the Lady Lobos are now 7-6 in district play with just one more contest left on the schedule. With Hays defeating Boerne Champion earlier that evening, the Lobos are now one game ahead of the Chargers for the fourth and final playoff spot in 27-4A.
With a win over struggling Schertz Clemens next week, or a loss by Champion to Seguin, the Lobos would earn the final postseason berth in the district. However, a Lobo loss, along with a Champion victory, would set up a tie-breaking, neutral site, one-game playoff between Boerne Champion and Lehman.
For Coy, the latter scenario is simply not an option. “We just need to focus on Clemens,” Coy said.
Whichever way the playoff race pans out, Coy remained cautious as to the way her squad should play moving forward.
“We cannot have the turnover issues like we did against Lockhart tonight, especially against tougher opposition such as Clemens. There needs to be a focus on attention to detail, mostly on passes and cuts. The Seguin game was an example of how well we can play. Against Clemens, we need to do a better job of getting the job done, both on offense and defense,” said Coy.
While the Lobos will be hard at work to prepare for the Lady Buffaloes, the six seniors who took the floor at Lobo Gym for the final time would be forgiven if they reminisced somewhat.
Almost all of them held back tears as they walked off the court, knowing how much hard work they had put in to get to where they are now.
Gallegos perhaps said it best for all of the seniors.
“This moment is bittersweet. The seniors went out with the mentality of, ‘let’s go out and get the win, let’s make this a memorable game.’ We did just that, but it still bittersweet to know that this is our last game at home.”