Familiarity to guide Lady Lobo hoops

Armed with experience and familiarity, the Lehman Lobo girls basketball team wasted no time in hitting the ground running during Mondays’ open preseason practice.

Drills were run at a frenetic pace, with players adeptly moving across the court like clockwork.

Such a scene is a new experience for the Lobos as they enter 2017 under second year head coach James Halatin.

The ability to work under a familiar system is what Halatin hopes can help Lehman pick up the pace, and, potentially, compete in district.

Lehman Lobo Zakya Jarden tangles with a teammate for possession of the ball during a live team drill in the silver gym at Lehman High. (photo by Moses Leos III)

“Everything isn’t as new, so we don’t have to teach as much,” Halatin said. “We can fine-tune and speed things up and the girls are moving quickly now.”

Six seniors, led by three-year starter Maggie Castillo, are expected to shoulder the load for the Lobos in 2017. Joining Castillo will be seniors Sarah O’Neal, Karissa Cisneros and Samirah Cunningham.

Zakya Jarden, a transfer from Hays High, could provide a boost to the Lobos as well.

Halatin said the team aims to improve from a 2016 season where they won only eight games and finished winless in district.

While the Lobos attempted to play at a high pace last year, Halatin said players didn’t understand what it looked like at the time.

Consistency in the system, along with more depth on the floor, could help the Lobos find equilibrium.

Aiding the cause was a more focused effort by players to improve their skills over the summer and in the fall. Halatin said many of his athletes played on select leagues in the offseason; several of his players said it’s the most active Lehman girls basketball players have been.

In fall ball, a composite junior varsity and varsity group went 5-1; Lehman’s entire basketball program went 11-1 in fall ball play.

“We can put five on the floor and all five score and defend,” Halatin said. “We have fully expected, and have the girls to expect, that we will be more competitive this year. “

Getting players acclimated to each other will be the short-term goal as Lehman starts off the season. Halatin said there could be a learning curve when implementing some of his younger athletes.

Overall, Halatin said the team has “bought in” to the system. It was bolstered when he offered upperclassmen a chance to set their own goals for their team.

“We let them set the bar on where they think we should be,” Halatin said. “I think it makes it more their program.”

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