Mental miscues in the final 90-plus seconds Friday places the Lehman Lobos boys basketball team’s playoff hopes in limbo.
Following a 49-44 loss to the Austin High Maroons, Lehman (16-15, 7-9) had been on outside, looking in for the postseason.
However, an Austin High loss and a Del Valle win Tuesday draws Lehman into a three-way tie with those teams for the final playoff spot in 25-6A. Lehman will get one last shot at vying for a playoff berth when they take on the winner of Austin/Del Valle Friday in a play-in game at Bales Gym.
It now gives the Lobos a second opportunity at attempting to extend an already historic season.
“Any other game from here on out is another we weren’t guaranteed, so let’s go,” Pinchback said.
Struggles in stopping Austin High’s Calvin Williams in the third frame played a role in the Lobos’ loss Friday. Lehman, which led Austin 28-18 at intermission, was outscored 17-7 by the Maroons in the third quarter.
Nine of Austin’s 17 points were tallied by Williams, who finished with a team-high 15 points on the night. Pinchback said Williams got “loose a little bit,” which allowed him to explode on the offensive end.
“Hats off to them. It was a heck of a game and a heavyweight fight and that’s what you want,” Pinchback said.
Austin maintained momentum in the fourth quarter, keeping Lehman at arms’ length most of the way. Austin led Lehman 43-42 with roughly four minutes left to play.
Lehman recovered and recaptured the lead at 44-43 via a bucket from Lobo guard Oscar Montalvo. A Maroon turnover on the ensuing possession, followed by a quick timeout, gave the Lobos the ball with roughly two minutes to go in the contest.
The Lobos, however, were unable to hold on. A quick Lobo shot attempt missed, giving Austin possession, and life, again with time winding down.
A bucket with less than a minute to go placed Austin ahead 45-44 and eventually out of Lehman’s reach.
“During the timeout, I told the guys, ‘we’re going to shoot free throws.’ We had the lead and the ball; we had everything,” Pinchback said. “Sometimes young kids do things. They just do things. When you’re dealing with kids, things happen.”
Second half struggles directly opposed the success Lehman enjoyed in the first two quarters.
Spurred by a near sell-out crowd, Lehman initially leapt out to a 11-9 first quarter lead which ballooned to 28-18 at halftime.
Leading the Lobos was junior Naj Collier, who scored six of his 10 total points in the first frame, along with senior Keevan Penson’s five points in the second quarter. Penson finished with seven total points.
As a team, Lehman shot 44 percent from the field in the first half, which decreased to 31 percent in the final two quarters.
“They were locked in and going in with our plan,” Pinchback said. “We had some big plays, but they came back.”
Ultimately, Pinchback said he hopes his team learns from its experiences and grows from it.
“Hopefully they learn the lesson. We don’t lose, we learn. Hopefully they’ll learn something and believe in what we’re doing,” Pinchback said. “They’ll let it go and we’ll regroup.”
Final 25-6A boys basketball regular season standings
Lake Travis 13-3
Del Valle 7-9