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Basketball: Horns race past North
Champion sparks key stretch for Lambert
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Lambert forward Logan Bush puts up a shot against North Forsyth forward Brandon Rapson on Thursday at Raider Arena. Bush and Rapson tied for the game-high with 13 points apiece. - photo by Jared Putnam

Mark Champion gave Lambert the spark it needed.

The senior guard buried a 3-pointer at the first quarter buzzer and added two more in the second quarter, fueling a 16-2 run that lifted the Longhorns to a 61-37 win over North Forsyth on Thursday at Raider Arena.

Lambert’s victory was its fourth in the last five games.

Champion (9 points) was one of a dozen players to score for the Longhorns (13-8, 7-4 Region 6B-AAAAAA). Lambert forward Logan Bush tied North’s Brandon Rapson with a game-high 13 points.

"Mark needed those shots today," Lambert head coach Scott Bracco said.

"We believe he’s back [to form]. It’s just a mindset when you shoot the ball and he did a great job today."

The Raiders (11-12, 3-9) trailed 10-8 with less than 30 seconds remaining in the opening quarter and tried to play for the last shot before turning the ball over on an offensive foul. Lambert gained a little breathing room on Champion’s 3, and Bracco felt that basket gave his team the momentum the rest of the half.

"That just jump-started us in the second quarter," Bracco said. "Our intensity picked up on the defensive end, we did a better job on the boards and we pushed the ball up the court and scored in transition."

Senior foward T.J. Russell was a big part of the Longhorns’ run, scoring all eight of his points in the second period.

Lambert pulled ahead by 18 points, 34-16, at halftime, a margin that proved too much for the Raiders to overcome.

North scored the first two baskets of the third quarter to cut the lead to 34-20, but couldn’t get any closer.

"We just have a hard time scoring," North head coach Brian Moon said.

"We couldn’t make a shot in the first half. It’s 10-8 ... then it’s 23-8. We let them get in too much of a rhythm."

Lambert holds the top record on its side of the subregion by a wide margin and is tied with Centennial for the third-best record in the region. Bracco said the Longhorns want to use their remaining games as a tune-up for the 6-AAAAAA tournament.

"Our goal from day one is to improve every day and improve with each game, and we’re on track" Bracco said. "We still have a week and a half to go in the regular season and we’re just trying to prepare for the region tournament."