As the final seconds dwindled down Friday at Bales Gym, the Lehman Lady Lobos basketball team continued to make every Hays Lady Rebel possession a difficult venture.
Even with the score well out of reach, Lehman’s plucky lineup harassed Lady Rebel ball handlers, forcing tough shots and errant passes en masse.
All of it centered on a theme of increased pressure from the get-go, which paid dividends for the Lady Lobos as they cruised to a 49-27 statement win over crosstown rival Hays. The victory marks Lehman’s second win in three games against Hays, and only the second win all-time for the Lady Lobos against their rivals.
But for Lady Lobos head coach Brad Taylor, how the Lady Lobos scored its second district win of the season was perhaps more meaningful than anything else. As they near the midpoint of the district slate, Taylor said the Lady Lobos are finding the right path.
“I’m proud of all of the girls executing the game plan. We’re finally starting to put it together,” Taylor said. “If we continue to play like this, we have a legit chance of making the playoffs. It’s got me excited.”
Central to Lehman’s (7-12, 2-3) victory was shutting down Hays’ size advantage in the paint. Lehman limited Lady Rebel sophomores Lily Guevara and Trista Strasser, two of Hays’ biggest scoring threats, to only five combined points.
Playing with a physical mindset was essential, along with scoring turnovers and executing effectively on offense, Taylor said. However, Lady Lobo sophomore guard Kayla Presley said they knew they had to negate Hays in the paint in order to succeed.
“They were a threat, so we knew to take them out of the game and make their guards shoot deep threes that were highly contested,” Presley said.
Lehman opened by taking a 15-7 first quarter lead. After Hays weathered the storm to start the second frame, Lehman found its stroke from three-point range, including a key bucket from beyond the arc from Alyssa Saucedo, which gave Lehman an 25-18 lead at halftime.
Lehman slammed on the gas pedal and outscored Hays 19-1 in the third frame. When it was all said and done, Lehman captured the momentum and a 39-19 lead.
Guiding the run was the Lady Lobos’ ability to force Rebel turnovers, which turned into transition buckets. Adept Lady Lobo shooting from beyond the arc was also critical as well.
Presley and junior forward Bridgette Ramirez each finished with a game-high 16 points in the game. Both players hit four three-pointers in the contest. Lehman finished with nine three-pointers on the night.
“We weren’t satisfied. We felt the score was too close (at halftime) and that we needed to intensify everything,” Presley said. “We locked in and pushed the gas pedal all the way through.”
Meanwhile, Hays Lady Rebels head coach Danny Preuss said the inability to play at an intense level led to struggles Friday. Lehman secured more rebounds, loose balls and “had more heart than we did,” Preuss said. The issue so far this season has been which team Preuss can expect to hit the floor each night.
“Sometimes we have the team that shows up when we play Akins or Anderson … but they (Lehman) beat us in every angle of the game you can think of.”
The win provides a “boost of confidence” for the Lady Lobos, as well as helps improve team chemistry, Presley said. Improved execution could be a sign of things to come for the program.
“In the past, Lehman has been looked at as the laughing stock of this district. I’ve been preaching to them those days are over with,” Taylor said. “This is a new program now. We’re going to use this confidence from this game and keep moving forward.”
Lehman hosts Anderson Friday at 7:30 p.m., while Hays travels to play at Westlake.
Girls 25-6A basketball standings as of Dec. 17
Lake Travis 2-3
Del Valle 1-5