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Photo by Gerald Castillo

San Marcos thunders past Lady Buffaloes

San Marcos Girls Basketball
Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Grace Latham always blocks shots and always rebounds. But she doesn’t always cut middle.

The junior center did all three Tuesday night, as San Marcos defeated Schertz Clemens, 51-29, inside the Snake Pit.

“She’s always a big body in the paint,” head coach Veronda Kendall said. “That’s what she does. She does a great job of that pretty much night in and night out.”

Latham’s presence inside helped stabilize the team through a rough first quarter. The Lady Buffaloes played tight defense, not allowing many Lady Rattler buckets, but gave up a ton of offensive rebounds and turnovers. On the other end, Latham anchored the defense, patrolling the paint and swatting away any attempts at the rim.

“I just love blocking shots,” Latham said. “That’s my favorite thing to do.”

Still, San Marcos struggled on offense and trailed Clemens 10-8 heading into the second quarter. On the team’s first possession of the second period, junior wing Miranda Lamb inbounded the ball from the baseline to Latham, posting up on the left block. Lamb relocated to the corner while her defender left to double team Latham. The post kicked it back out, and Lamb canned the triple to take back the lead.

The Lady Buffaloes scored on the next trip down, but it would be their last bucket of the half. The Lady Rattlers closed out the quarter on a 17-0 run, up 28-12 at halftime.

“I liked our offensive execution,” Kendall said. “I really feel like that’s where we settled into the man-to-man. And I think we were making them very uncomfortable with that.”

“(We were) staying patient and moving the ball a lot,” junior guard Beth Gutierrez said. “And then us staying patient made us points and that’s what got us the lead.”

Clemens started pressing in the second half. It frazzled San Marcos, shrinking its lead to just 11 points halfway through the third quarter. That’s when Latham started cutting middle.

Rather than running the floor down the sideline, Latham’s coaches wanted her to go down the center of the court. That way, when press began trapping the Lady Rattlers’ guards, they’d have a bigger target to throw to.

“We decided to cut middle and that helped us a lot," Latham said. "Me cutting middle helped us break the press and get past every girl. And that just helped us move the ball more and be patient and set up plays and go and get easy layups like that.”

The adjustment worked. The hosts ended the third quarter up 36-22, then shot 11-18 at the foul line in the fourth to close out the game with the 51-29 win.

“I saw some growth tonight,” Kendall said. “I’m not sure I can pinpoint what it was, but this was a big win for us, a huge win. I’m very, very proud of all of them.”

Gutierrez led the team with 12 points, followed by freshman guard Vivian Hernandez with 11 and sophomore forward Faith Phillips with 10. Latham finished the night with four.

San Marcos (19-10, 3-3 district) will complete its first district cycle Friday on the road versus New Braunfels (9-9, 1-5) at 7 p.m. A win would give the Lady Rattlers a cushion at fourth place in the district, as the team hopes to make a push for the playoffs this season.

“We’re trying to focus on making it to the playoffs,” Gutierrez said. “So we’re really coming together and trying our hardest to stay positive and keep the game going.”