Summer Edwards’ layup bounced off the back of the rim, and then the front, and after it finally went through to secure Lambert girls basketball team’s 50-48 win over South Forsyth, Edwards ran over and embraced someone who hadn’t been on the court for any of it.
Longhorns senior Jaleah Greene missed the game with mononucleosis, and Lambert didn’t find out until shortly before tipoff that she wouldn’t be able to play. The senior post’s absence deprived the Longhorns of one of their main sources of offense.
"I just challenged the girls before the game that the next one's got to step up," Lambert head coach Jaime Fisher said.
One major way Lambert made up for Greene’s absence was by clamping down even harder on defense, crowding passing lanes and ball handlers to create a bulk of their points off turnovers.
The Longhorns (10-6, 3-1 Region 5-7A) trailed 28-26 entering the second half, but they took a 32-28 lead within the first minute of the third quarter, with baskets from Edwards and Katie Schwind both coming off of steals.
"We were trying to be more aggressive and pressure the ball, force them to make bad passes and get steals and easy layups," Fisher said.
South (11-8, 2-2) was far from inept from offense, with strong shooting performances from Ashley Briendl and Zoe Maisel powering the War Eagles, and a layup from Sara Idris tied the game at 48-48 with 37.9 seconds to play. The teams traded turnovers after that basket, and Lambert drew up the game's last play with 13.9 seconds remaining.
Edwards took the inbounds pass and went to the top of the arc to try and pick-and-roll with Sydney Chason, but Chason couldn't get open on the roll. So Edwards dribbled away a few more seconds, gave the ball to Chason and made a cut towards the lane, where she received the pass and put up the shot that bounced in and gave Lambert the win. As the Longhorns' bench emptied onto the court, Edwards went to embrace Greene.
"I'm still shaking," Edwards said roughly 10 minutes after the game ended. "That was a really intense game, and I'm still trying to get over it."
Skyler Aledia led Lambert with 13 points, and Edwards contributed 10. Briendl and Idris had 14 for South, and Maisel had 12.
Lambert boys 61, South Forsyth 57
The second game of the night was another close affair, with Lambert taking the decisive lead early in the second quarter but never leading by more than nine points the rest of the way.
The Longhorns were up 48-39 after Austin Deckard hit a three-pointer with just under a minute to go in the third quarter. South inched back during the fourth quarter, though, hitting six of its eight free throws and getting a bucket from Santhosh Saravanan to make it 57-55 with 39 seconds to play.
Mitch Ganote made only the back end of a pair of free throws for the Longhorns, and while the War Eagles (7-11, 2-2 Region 5-7A) had a chance to tie the game with under 30 seconds left, Lambert (12-4, 3-1) snared a rebound and made the necessary free throws the rest of the way to ice the win.
Jordan McIlwain and Damon Stoudamire each had 17 points for the Longhorns. Isaiah Magee led South with 14, Jared Riley had 13, Saravanan had 12 and Devin McGlockton had 10.