Over the course of four quarters Friday, Lehman Lobos head boys basketball coach Steve Pinchback reveled in the small victories his team compiled against a formidable Lake Travis Cavalier squad.
While third quarter struggles hurt Lehman in a 57-48 loss, the Lobos’ ability to keep Lake Travis (16-0, 2-0) on the ropes for almost the entire contest was a point of pride for Pinchback and his team.
Lehman (7-5, 0-2) now hopes to piece together those small successes and turn them into wins as they continue to march through the first half of district play.
“We’ve played them better than anyone else has played them (Lake Travis). No one else has done what we did,” Pinchback said. “We have the potential, but it’s a process. So we have to learn.”
Lehman didn’t waste time keeping pace with the Cavaliers in the early going. Six points from Lobo Nick Collier guided Lehman to a slim 13-12 first quarter lead.
The Lobo offense turned up in the heat in the second frame by taking a 18-14 advantage. Despite falling behind by three midway through the quarter, Lehman’s offense woke up and went on a 9-3 run over the final four-plus minutes. Lehman led Lake Travis 27-24 at intermission.
Cameron Jones, who scored seven of his team-high 14 points in the second frame, said following their game plan of solid defense and constant communication paid dividends. Pinchback said the Lobos’ game plan forced Lake Travis out of its comfort zone and required them to make adjustments.
“It felt good (leading at halftime). Last year, we struggled against them and it felt good to come in hot,” Jones said. “They weren’t expecting that from us.”
But the Lobos were unable to keep Lake Travis grounded for long. The Cavaliers turned to senior post Clint Baty, whose size and presence in the paint pushed Lake Travis to a 37-34 lead after three quarters.
Baty scored eight of his 15 total points in the third frame alone, which included converting a pair of old-fashioned three-point plays. Meanwhile, Lehman’s offense, which was blistering hot in the first half, went ice-cold and was unable to generate a rhythm.
Lehman’s first bucket came via a three-pointer from Jones with just under five minutes left in the third quarter. The Lobos were limited to seven third quarter points.
Lake Travis’ use of a 1-3-1 zone “messed us up a little bit,” and affected the Lobos ability to knock down shots, said Jones.
Pinchback said the Lobos are “still trying to figure out that third quarter.”
“We had them on the ropes, but we didn’t knock them out,” Pinchback said. “That’s what good teams do, they knock them out.”
Continued Lobo scoring woes to start the fourth frame helped Lake Travis build a 45-34 lead with less than four minutes remaining.
Lehman orchestrated a small rally and cut the Cavalier lead to as low as seven points, due in part to key buckets from Marcos Cantu and Oscar Montalvo. Free throws allowed Lake Travis to keep Lehman at arm’s length the rest of the way.
Amid the struggles, Pinchback said working on the miscues will go a long way for the Lobos. So long as they continue to play their game, Pinchback said the Lobos can match up with anyone.
“I’m not for moral victories, but they played to those guys. We had those kids flustered,” Pinchback said. “But you have to finish the deal.”
Lehman hosts crosstown rival Hays Friday at 7:30 p.m.