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Basketball: Lambert boys knocked out by Walton
Lambert's Cameron Bland tries to get past a Walton defender during a Class 7A state tournament first-round matchup Wednesday at home. (Photo by Nicholas Sullivan)

When James Tyre buried a 3-pointer to beat the shot and game clocks to end the third quarter, it appeared Lambert might have received the lift it needed to edge Walton in a Class 7A state tournament first-round matchup.

However, the Longhorns suffered a nightmare start to the fourth quarter and couldn't recover in suffering a 63-49 season-ending defeat to the Raiders Wednesday at home.

Following Tyre's clutch shot, Lambert (20-8) entered the final period down just 42-39. Within the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, though, Walton (18-11) knocked down a pair of triples, while the hosts went 0-for-4 from the foul line.

Even though the Longhorns did eventually cut the lead to six points on two separate occasions, the Raiders scored the game's final eight points to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16.

Based on seeding, Walton, the fourth-place finisher in the Region 5-7A tournament, technically upset Region 6-7A champion Lambert. But considering the Raiders secured a 75-56 win during the teams' regular-season meeting in Cobb County, the result certainly doesn't qualify as a shocker.

Given that Lambert went into Wednesday's game much healthier than in that previous matchup and had earned the right to play the contest on its home court, where the Longhorns went undefeated during the regular season, the local side felt it had a good chance of reversing its fortunes.

Things started off well towards that endeavor, as Lambert built a 13-6 lead by the 2:31 mark of the first period — thanks in large part to a pair of early 3-pointers by Keenan Gagen.

Walton responded by scoring the final three points of the opening stanza and the first three of the ensuing quarter to trim its deficit to 13-12.

The Longhorns managed to extend back out to a six-point lead, but the Raiders closed the half on a 10-2 spurt. The run gave Walton a 26-24 edge at halftime, representing the visitors' first lead since a 4-3 advantage in the early stages.

Behind the one-two combination of Caesar Burrows and Luke Flynn, the Raiders held the lead throughout the second half. The duo each finished with 20 points and a trio of treys. Twenty-nine of their points and all six of their makes from distance came over the final two periods.

Tyre did his best to try to keep the Lambert offense afloat, finishing with 15 points. A normally deadly 3-point shooting team, the Longhorns made three shots from the distance in the first quarter, but single 3-pointers from Tyre in each of the final three periods represented Lambert's only other long-range makes.

Cameron Bland recorded 14 points and knocked down the Longhorns' other first-quarter triple.

Niko Wilson wound up with 11 points, including nine in the second half. The senior broke the program's all-time scoring record in his final game, as the region player of the year finished his Lambert career with 1,239 points.