On paper, there was a huge size differential between Robert E. Lee and Hallsville, but through two quarters of play Tuesday, the smaller Lady Bobcats had owned the paint and the glass.
Lee coach Lloyd Mahaffey made that the focus of his second-half strategy and his team did the rest, finishing with 42 rebounds compared to 28 for the visiting Lady Bobcats in a 52-41 win at REL Varsity Gym.
Lee moved to 2-0 on the season while Hallsville dropped to 1-2.
"I looked at the stats at halftime and we only had four offensive rebounds," Mahaffey said. "When we came out in the second half, my focus changed a little bit. We wanted to pound them on the inside because we outsized them."
Lee senior Ciara Johnson finished one rebound shy of a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing nine boards to go along with three steals and two blocks. Berjae Lewis also scored in double figures with 10 points, three steals and two blocked shots. Dajah Thompson, Dominique Thomas (eight points) and Emem David (nine points) combined for 16 rebounds, most of those coming in the second half.
Hallsville was led by guard Abby Reeder, who turned in a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds, Also scoring in double figures for the Lady Bobcats was Nathalia Lomax (12 points).
"Definitely their size and offensive rebounding really hindered us from getting second shots," Hallsville coach John Thompson said. "We're not a real good offensive scoring team, so we rely on second shots and they took that away from us."
Lee struggled offensively in the first half, making just 8 of 28 shots and was 0 for 7 from the 3-point arc. Despite that, Lee held a 23-22 lead at the break.
The Lady Raiders took control in the closing minutes of the third quarter with Johnson, David, Thomas and Berjae Lewis all playing a part in a 12-2 run.
Lee trailed 28-27 when Johnson rebounded a miss and powered up for two to give REL a lead it would never relinquish. Thomas then made a steal and went coast to coast for a layup to make it 31-28. Then David got in the act, receiving a pass in the paint and forcing her way for a three-point play the old-fashioned way.
Chabrea Mitchell of Hallsville was left alone on an inbounds play for an easy bucket, but that was the Lady Bobcats' only points in that stretch.
Lee capped the third with a basket from Johnson and began the fourth with another strong inside move and basket by David. A free throw from Erin Brinkley completed the surge and gave Lee a 43-31 lead with just over five minutes remaining.
Lewis took over from there, scoring six of her final 10 in those final five minutes on a turnaround jumper, layup and pull-up jumper to help REL secure an 11-point win.
"I am happy to get the win," Mahaffey said. "There are a lot of things we need to work on and we will get back in here tomorrow and continue the process of being the team we want to be."
Robert E. Lee 52, Hallsville 41
Hallsville 14 8 8 11 — 41 Robert E. Lee 15 8 13 16 — 52
HALLSVILLE — Natasha Griffith, 2; Elisha Leathers, 7; Raney Mixon, 2; Chabrea Mitchell, 2; Abby Reeder, 13; Junesha Williams, 0; Nathalia Lomax, 12; Dominique Templeton, 3. FG: 14-50. FT: 12-21.
ROBERT E. LEE — Berjae Lewis, 10; Shreece Pryor, 0; Ciara Johnson, 12; Tree Brooks, 7; Dajah Thompson, 3; Erin Brinkley, 2; K. Dews, 0; Dominique Thomas, 8; Emem David, 9; J. Clewis, 1.
THREE POINT GOALS — HAL (1-11): Leathers. REL (0-9).
RECORDS — Hallsville 2-2; Robert E. Lee 2-0.
NEXT UP — Robert E. Lee at Corsicana Tournament, Thursday at Corsicana High School.