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Basketball: Lambert boys stifle West to move into a tie for second
Lambert senior Braxton Beaty dribbles his way past West Forsyth junior Jack Bock on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. - photo by David Almeda

Whether it was shooting threes, driving inside for a layup or dumping the ball off to an open teammate, Braxton Beaty was doing it all for Lambert against West Forsyth on Tuesday night.

And he did it with dedication. Well after the Longhorns had the game in hand, he dove against the side of the bleachers late in the third to keep the ball in bounds, with no regard for his body.

“You have to,” Beaty said. “(My teammates) do it for me, I do it for them.”

And with six assists to go along with his 17 points, he certainly repaid the favor on the stat sheet as well, helping the Longhorns to a critical 80-61 win over the Wolverines.

The victory improved Lambert’s region record to 3-2, which ties the Longhorns with West for second in the Region 5-7A standings. Overall, the Longhorns now stand at 13-7, while the Wolverines fell to 14-5.

West Forsyth senior Nick Zabetakis takes the ball up the floor against Lambert on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. - photo by David Almeda

“I'm just super proud of the guys,” Lambert boys coach Scott Bracco said. “I thought we played with great energy. We played very well on the defensive end. I just think we played very good defense and the guys just played well together.”

Early on, the game looked like it could go either way. Tyler Lane and Jack Bock connected early in the first quarter, but Lambert’s Colin Granger was getting open inside, cashing in on the first of two dunks with 3:41 left in the opening period.

Lane and Russell Miller continued to keep the Wolverines in it, but after a Luke Champion three tied the game at 12-12, Beaty and Granger started an early second-quarter run that set Lambert up for the rest of the game. Beaty accounted for three of Lambert’s first four scores of the second quarter.

“I'm a lot faster this year,” Beaty said. “I'm using my team more with screens and backdoors and it's getting me open. It's working.”

Getting offensive rebounds was also huge for Lambert, with Granger leading the way. He finished with 12 boards for the game to go with a team-leading 25 points. That, along with multiple errors, paved the way for the West’s 47-28 halftime deficit.

Lambert senior Colin Granger celebrates after a dunk against West Forsyth on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. - photo by David Almeda
“Lambert outplayed us,” West boys coach Fredrick Hurt said. “That's the bottom line. We turned the ball over way too much, which is uncharacteristic of us. We gave up 12 offensive rebounds in the first half, maybe 11. We had 12 turnovers in the first half. You're not going to beat anybody doing that.”

But even though the Wolverines trailed by a sizable margin, they still had something to celebrate in the final minute of the first half, with junior Broc Bidwell passing Jimmy Staiti to become West’s all-time career points leader.

From that point on, Lambert showed no signs of giving up the lead it had built, holding a 63-45 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Longhorns started their region slate 0-2, but after three straight wins, they hope they’ve found a way to keep that consistency going.

“This win's big,” Beaty said. “We needed it for the region. We need to continue it.”