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Basketball: Lambert bounces back, smothers West Forsyth in win
Lambert senior Colin Granger goes up for two of his 12 points Friday during the Longhorns' 64-55 win against West Forsyth in the Region 5-7A tournament. - photo by David Almeda

Luke Champion started each half the same way.

His first 3-pointer gave Lambert’s boys basketball team the first points of the game. Then he did it again after halftime, sinking another 3-point shot to give the Longhorns a 14-point cushion and signal to West Forsyth that they weren’t letting up.

In all, Champion buried five 3-pointers on his way to 19 points, Colin Granger pulled down 17 rebounds and Lambert locked up the third seed in Region 5-7A on Friday with a 64-55 win against the Wolverines.

“We came out early with Luke, and we were looking for it early. He shot the ball well,” Lambert head coach Scott Bracco said. “I thought Braxton Beaty played a tough game and I thought Colin Granger did a good job on the boards tonight.”

West Forsyth junior Tyler Lane quickly answered Champion’s first 3-pointer with one of his own, but the Longhorns ripped off a 12-point run – featuring two more 3-pointers by Champion – spurring a Wolverines timeout.

Lambert scored two more points before West Forsyth managed to stop the bleeding. By then, though, the Wolverines had fallen into a 17-3 hole they never managed to leave.

West Forsyth junior Broc Bidwell drives toward the basket Friday during the Wolverines' 64-55 loss to Lambert in the Region 5-7A tournament. - photo by David Almeda
West Forsyth got close halfway through the fourth quarter when junior Russell Miller went to the free-throw line with two shots to cut into Lambert’s 52-47 lead, but Miller missed both free throws and the Longhorns managed to pull away.

After Wednesdays’ loss to South Forsyth in the region tournament semifinal, Bracco said he challenged his players to step up defensively.

Lambert responded by holding its opponent under 60 points for the ninth time all season. The Longhorns are 9-1 in each instance.

“I think our guys understand we gave a poor effort the other night and that’s unacceptable,” Bracco said. “It’s unacceptable with our standards and I challenged them to defend a lot harder and a lot tougher. I’m proud of the effort they gave tonight.”

The loss pushed West Forsyth’s losing streak to a season-high five games. Since starting 13-3, the Wolverines are 4-7.

Junior Broc Bidwell scored a game-high 21 points, while senior Sterling Johnson finished with 11 points – including a perfect 7-for-7 mark from the free-throw line – before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

West Forsyth (17-10) finishes as Region 5-7A’s No. 4 seed and will travel to Region 7-7A champion Berkmar next week. Lambert (18-9) is the No. 3 seed in the region and will travel to second-seeded Norcross next week.

“Any time you’re going to the state tournament, you’re going to focus on one team at a time,” Bracco said. “We’re going to be the most prepared team in that game. Our guys will come out and be excited, and I expect great defensive effort.”