Hard to tell if Friday night’s (Jan. 27) contest was a game of basketball keep-away. The Lehman Lobos won the “keep-away” aspect which helped them win the basketball game 61-52 over the Vandegrift Vipers in a game that demonstrated the need for a shot clock in high school basketball.
Well aware of the dangers of falling behind to Lehman after their first meeting earlier this month, the Vipers scored the first four points of the game. Unfortunately for the hosts, Lehman reeled off eight unanswered points of their own and grabbed the lead for good. Lehman led 18-11 after the first quarter and stretched their edge to 35-24 at the half.
Looking to change the tempo, Vandegrift sprang a full court press on the Lobos midway through the third quarter and pulled to within 43-34 heading into the final frame. The Vipers ratcheted up the pressure even more and forced some turnovers to creep to within five points several times.
When the Lobos did break the press, however, their keep-away game – point guard dribbles to free throw line and passes it back out to half court; rinse and repeat – began. With the Vipers forced to foul, the Lobos needed to hit their free throws -- which they did, converting on 23-of-31from the charity stripe.
The officials only sent Vandegrift to the free throw line 14 times the entire night, where they made eight.
Tracy Malrey scored 16 points in the first 12 minutes before Vandegrift senior Alex Fernandez matched up on him and slowed him down. The senior Lobo finished with 25 points on the night to pace Lehman; his sophomore teammate Cameron Jones added 21 including 14 points from the free throw line.
John Rendon and Kameron Edwards added five points each; Kimon Horne contributed three points and Kenny Henderson tacked on two for Lehman.
Vandegrift freshman Greg Brown III score 19 of his team-high 25 points in the first half. However, Justin Florence (11 points) was the only other Viper in double digits. Fernandez scored five points; Ryan Boles drained a 3-pointer; and, Isaiah Smallwood, Ernie Devine, Justin Moore, and Kyle Walsh tacked on two points each.
The loss, combined with Vista Ridge’s 62-59 win over Leander, dropped Vandegrift (9-17, 2-6) three games out of a playoff spot with just four games remaining. The Vipers travel to Leander (14-11, 5-2) Friday (Feb. 3) hoping to avenge an earlier overtime loss to the Lions.
Both District 25-6A wins for Lehman (10-18, 2-6) have come against Vandegrift. The Lobos pulled into a tie with the Vipers and own the head-to-head tiebreaker courtesy of their season sweep. Lehman hosts arch-rival Hays Friday night.
Westlake (21-6, 7-1) pounded the Rebels (6-21, 1-7) 84-33 in the other district game while Lake Travis (19-8, 5-2) was idle.