Briley Elder wasn’t satisfied with anything that was happening.
On Tuesday night, her Lambert Longhorns walked into the locker room after an uninspired first-half performance against last-place Region 5-7A foe Milton, a team they’d bested by 21 points just a month ago.
For the moment, Lambert was on the other side of that coin, with a porous defense and poor shooting leading to an eight-point deficit that could have been much larger.
“We were feeling down,” Elder said. “We wanted to come back. We knew we could win it — we wanted it more.”
Sure enough, the Longhorns finally found their shot. In the fourth quarter, they took their first lead of the game with 4:20 left to play, and behind Elder’s 13 points and three 3-pointers in the final period, Lambert escaped with a 41-37 win to improve to 7-12 overall and 2-5 in the region. Elder totaled 17 points for the game.
“I think we brought more energy,” Elder said. “We just shot a lot better and the shots started going in.”
It would have been easy to see Lambert dropping the game to the Eagles early on, though. Neither team shot the ball well in the first quarter, but even after a steal-and-score from Anna Jackson and a made shot from Elder, that was all Lambert got, as they entered the second trailing 6-4.
“They zoned us pretty good,” Lambert girls coach Brian Moon said. “We have a hard time making threes and shooting the ball from the perimeter. They had a little size, and we're pretty undersized, so we have a hard time being able to throw it in the post and score.”
And their shooting didn’t get much better in the second. The Longhorns entered the half after connecting on just three field goals, entering the halfway point down 18-10.
Milton center Lena Godwin particularly shined early in the second half, capitalizing on offensive rebounds to help her team to a 24-12 lead midway through the frame. Thankfully for the Longhorns, their shooters finally began connecting at that same time. Elder, Taylor Parrish and Riley Stevens helped keep Milton’s steady at 31-21 entering the fourth, when Elder found and took advantage of the majority of her deep looks.
That, combined with better rebounding late, ultimately led to a much-needed win for Lambert, who had lost four straight entering Tuesday.
“We were lackadaisical on defense tonight,” Moon said. “When we don't score it good, seven points is a lot. Luckily, Briley got hot there in the fourth quarter and we got some looks. It's always good to have a good shooter out there.”