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Basketball: Barnes' 24 points lead Lambert past West, into semifinals
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Lambert senior Paul Lunguana puts up a shot Saturday during the Longhorns' win against West Forsyth. Photo by Jay Rooney Photography

Lambert's boys basketball team clinched a playoff berth Saturday behind a complete 74-54 win against West Forsyth.

Mason Barnes led the Longhorns with 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in the game. He had 18 points at halftime and had a motor that refused to cut out throughout the night. 

“[Barnes] has been playing great all year,” Lambert head coach Scott Bracco said. “I’m just excited to see him have another great game. He’s a big leader for us.”

The Longhorns recorded 22 team assists in the victory. Alongside Barnes’ seven, Paul Lunguana had six and Keenan Gagen had five. Lunguana added 11 points, with a breakaway dunk tying the bow on the state playoff berth win. 

“I challenged the guys to play a little bit harder tonight,” Bracco said. “I feel like when our guys come out to compete, we always are on the right side of the results.” 

Niko Wilson scored 13 points and big man Joao Morreria added 11 points and five rebounds in the winning effort. 

Lambert played great defense throughout the entire game, stealing the ball 11 times. Bracco said their game plan was not specifically to deny the Wolverines the ball, but that their tough attitude kept the ball in their hands. 

West came out of the gate hot, only trailing by two points at the end of the first quarter. The Wolverines moved the ball well throughout the game, tallying 18 team assists and out-rebounded Lambert 24-17. 

Jake Mooney recorded a double-double, scoring 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Caleb Lesch scored 14 points off the bench and Russell Miller added 11 points. 

Lambert lost their last two regular-season games by two points each to finish fourth heading into the region tournament. However, Bracco said his team is playing better than ever, and thought tonight’s victory proved just that. 

“We’re starting to build better team chemistry,” Bracco said. “I’m just proud of the way the guys fought through adversity throughout the game and were able to hold out in the end.”

The Longhorns move on to play South Forsyth in the region semifinals. 

Lambert lost both games against South in the regular season, but both games were close. The Longhorns only lost by five points in early December and then by 10 points their second match. 

“South has a very solid team and very good guard play,” Bracco said. “We just want to come out and play team basketball.”

The semifinal game for a guaranteed home game in the first round of the state tournament and a chance for the region title will be 6 p.m. Tuesday at South Forsyth.