By MacKenzie Bates
For the Forsyth County News
The senior showcase at Lambert was on full display Friday night in Suwanee.
Playing their final regular season game in front of the home crowd, the upperclassmen helped pace the Longhorns to an 87-61 victory over Forsyth Central.
“We’ve all developed in this program since third grade,” said senior Thomas Hickey, who scored nine points. “We’re not friends; we’re brothers. Every single day we bring a leadership aspect to the team, whether we’re playing a lot of minutes or not. We’ve got a great group of guys.”
Head coach Scott Bracco echoed Hickey’s sentiment.
“They continue to lay the foundation for the culture that we’re trying to build here,” Bracco said. “They’ve had tons of success and they just work so hard and great team chemistry with each other.”
The seniors combined for almost half of Lambert’s point total. Colin Granger scored a team-high 11 points. Mitch Ganote scored 10 points while Galil Guillaume added six points and Jack McClure scored three points on a triple in the first quarter.
Lambert (20-5, 8-2 Region 5-7A) took control of the game in the third quarter, opening the second half on an 11-0 run capped off by a Ganote basket. The Longhorns took advantage of seven Central turnovers in the period. The Longhorn defense forced 22 turnovers that turned in to 18 points.
“Our defense was pretty active,” Bracco said. “That’s one thing we stress. I felt like our guys were in the passing lanes pretty good and they just played with a lot of energy. I think senior night brought it out in them.”
As a team, Lambert shot 31-of-64 (48.4 percent) from the field. They connected on eight three-point baskets.
The Longhorns took its largest lead of the game late in the third quarter on a Guillaume basket to make it 63-35.
“I thought our kids came in with the right attitude and we hung around for a little bit and then the start of the third quarter, they just turned it up another level,” Central head coach Greg Dirst said.
The Bulldogs (6-19, 2-8) got a game-high 20 points from Anthony Roveto. Jake Craft scored 14 points and Joakeim Celestin added 10 points.
Central will be the five seed and will take on South Forsyth on Tuesday in next week’s regional tournament. Lambert earns a bye in to the semifinals with the No. 2 seed.
“It’s a new season,” Hickey said. “We’ve got to work hard in practice next week and definitely come out with the mindset that we have to earn the championship that we want to bring to Lambert.”
Forsyth Central girls 62, Lambert 42
Aisha Dabo was everywhere for Forsyth Central on Friday against Lambert.
Dabo scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, including six offensive boards to help the Bulldogs defeat the Longhorns 62-42 in the final regular season game between the two teams.
“She came up to me and said, ‘I think I turned my ankle,’” Head coach Angela Hurt said. “I said, ‘Is that why you rebounded so well?’”
“She battled and is so athletic. I was proud to see that she, along with our team come over a hump to get ready for next week.”
Central (15-10, 6-4) took control of the game in the second quarter, limiting the Longhorns to four points and racing out to a 28-15 lead at halftime.
Lambert senior Jenny McKenna and Ansley Dean each scored 11 points. Kristen Knaack added eight points for the Longhorns (7-18, 2-8).
“Central is probably the biggest team in the region,” Lambert head coach Chris Roy said. “You have to do a really good job of rebounding and we didn’t do that tonight. We’ve got to get better before our postseason game next week.”
Lambert will be the No. 5 seed in next week’s regional tournament. They will play fourth-seeded South Forsyth. The Bulldogs are the No. 3 seed and will battle Milton on Tuesday.