By Gabriel Stovall
The Covington News
COVINGTON — Jaime Fisher couldn’t have asked for a better effort from her team in her last game as the Lambert Longhorns’ head coach.
In the end, however, it was Newton pulling out a 45-40 win in the girls’ Class 7A state tournament’s second round, but not before Lambert almost completed an improbable comeback.
At the end of the third quarter, the Rams carried a 38-22 lead, and it looked like they would run away easily from Lambert, as they turned up the pressure on the Longhorns defensively and finally started getting transition buckets and more scoring from players other than Lexii Chatman, who had a game-high 23 points, including five 3-pointers.
But in the first 1 minute 30 seconds of the fourth quarter, Lambert connected on as many 3-point baskets (three) as it had total field goals in the entire third period. Reagan Pasonski buried back-to-back treys within 35 seconds of each other, and then Summer Edwards sank one at the top of the key at the 6:28 mark to chop Newton’s lead to seven at 38-31.
It took the Rams almost three minutes before Jurnee Smith scored the team’s first basket of the final stanza, but Lambert kept coming.
With Newton still up by six, Sidney Chason got fouled, but missed the front end of a one-in-one. However, Katie Schwind was there for the rebound and put-back. Edwards stole the ensuing inbounds pass and made a layup, to make the score 39-37 Newton.
On Newton’s next possession, Smith scored on a lay-in to make it 41-37, but Lambert chopped it back down to two with Jaleah Greene’s pretty step-back jumper at the 2:30 mark.
Lambert made a key mistake with under a minute left in regulation and a chance to tie or take the lead when a Longhorn threw an errant pass that was stolen by Newton’s Takiya Cotton.
That led to free throws from Chatman, followed by foul shots from Smith and Diamond Swift down the stretch to seal the win and a state quarterfinal appearance for Newton.
It was clear from the onset that Lambert wanted to slow the game down and take Newton out of its transition game comfort zone. And for much of the first half it worked, Lambert, despite giving up six quick points in the first quarter, settled in and stymied the Rams offensively while going into the second quarter down 9-6.
Both teams played fairly evenly in the second quarter as Newton took an 18-16 lead into halftime, before outscoring Lambert 20-6 in the pivotal third.
Greene led Lambert with 14 points, while Edwards and Pasonski chipped in with 10 apiece. Lambert finished its 2017-18 season with an 18-10 record overall, failing to advance to the state quarterfinals for the second straight season.