ATWATER — J.R. Davis is no stranger to the lineup shuffle.
The Atwater girls basketball coach has been plagued by injuries the last two seasons and forced to constantly tinker with his starting five.
With a good portion of his starting unit missing practices over the break and forward Mayra Mora out with a concussion, Davis was forced to mix things up yet again Friday afternoon at The Nest.
Natalie Govea stepped in to help fill the scoring void, pouring in a career-high 21 points. Unfortunately for the Falcons, she didn't quite get enough help.
Lodi's post players gave Atwater fits and the Flames came away with a 56-49 win.
"It's a little bit annoying that I had to sit most of my starters, but they missed practices during break," Davis said. "We went with our seniors, but having to sit some of our kids cost us.
"The good thing was it forced some other girls to step up. Natalie is always capable of having a hot hand, you just never know when she's going to be aggressive. She did a great job today."
Lodi (3-10) took advantage of the makeshift lineup, racing out to a 13-4 lead behind the interior play of Cassidie Head (17 points and 15 rebounds) and Morgan Walding (8 points, 10 rebounds).
Govea did her best to keep Atwater (4-11) in it. The junior scored 11 of the team's 19 first-half points and pulled in nine of her team-high 15 rebounds to trim the Flames' lead to 27-19 at intermission.
"I kind of realized I needed to step up and be an actual leader," Govea said. "I picked up my head and saw the whole court really well."
Govea kept the Falcons afloat, but turnovers and slow starts to all four quarters prevented them from ever making a real run.
Lodi threatened to break the game open with an 8-0 run to start the second half, pushing its lead to 35-19. Atwater kept chipping away, thanks to a big second half from guard Brianne Hunter.
She was one of the starters sorely missed, but helped atone by scoring all 14 of her points off the bench in the second half.
Back-to-back layups by Hunter cut the lead to 7 with 2:30 to play, but Atwater could never get any closer.
"It's just turnovers," Davis said. "It's like we get too excited or something.
"We fought our way back into the game and had the ball, but can't even get a shot off."