It didn’t seem to matter who was on the floor for Lambert’s girls on Saturday. Winless Cass just couldn’t handle the Lady Longhorns’ defensive pressure.
Lambert’s full-court press forced many turnovers long before the Lady Colonels ever had a chance to set up their offense, keying a 59-32 win at the Lambert gymnasium.
The victory kept the Lady Longhorns (7-3 overall, 3-0 Region 7-AAAA) perfect in region play.
“Coming off the North Forsyth game [Friday] where you think [if] you score 76 you’re going to win, [our girls] were a little flat to start out with, but they did a great job on the press,” Lambert head coach Seth Thompson said. “[Starting guards] Kierstin and Kaitlin Kidwell did a phenomenal job communicating. They’re the ones that set everything up.”
Lambert pulled ahead 21-6 after one quarter with the help of a 12-0 run.
Christina Johnson scored 11 points in the period and led all scorers with 17 despite being limited to two quarters of play.
Thompson felt comfortable enough with his team’s 25-10 lead to turn to his bench midway through the second quarter, but Cass (0-9, 0-4) wasn’t able to make up any ground.
Behind eight second-quarter points from freshman guard Ellie Hammer (11 points), the Lambert reserves outscored the Lady Colonels’ starters 10-6 before the halftime buzzer sounded.
“She’s got a chance to be really, really good,” Thompson said of Hammer. “She’s stepping up and starting to get more and more minutes every game.”
The Lady Longhorns’ starters returned to put the game away in the opening minutes of the third quarter, quickly outscoring Cass 15-2 to establish a comfortable 50-18 lead.
Lambert played the game without starting center Colleen Malone, who sat on the bench with flu-like symptoms.
“We went with a little smaller lineup, which is fine because we’re not super big to begin with,” Thompson said.
“We still pushed the tempo and had good pace. I feel pretty comfortable where we are right now.”
Cass (boys) 63, Lambert 52
Zeke Reed provided Cass with what Lambert’s boys lacked Saturday — a reliable shooter.
Reed scored 11 of his game-high 22 points in the third quarter and teammate Tony Mitchell added 17 to help The Colonels overcome a sluggish stretch of play and hand Lambert (8-2 overall, 2-1 Region 7-AAAA) its first region loss.
Cass (6-3, 2-2) led 26-20 late in the second quarter before the Longhorns tied the game 28-28 going into the half.
Lambert’s momentum continued at the outset of the third quarter and resulted in a 34-28 advantage, as Logan Bush (team-high 16 points) scored four consecutive points before assisting Colin Perzella (10) on a fast-break layup.
Reed took over after that, hitting two jump shots, two 3-pointers and a free throw during the remainder of the period.
“We’re playing more cautious on the defensive side,” Lambert head coach Derrick DeWitt said.
“I mean, offensively they’re doing what I want them to do, but on the defense side we have to get more aggressive and we have to become more of a team.”
Lambert was still within reach, 48-43, early in the fourth quarter, but Cass’ Jozell Payne hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to eight.
The Longhorns turned the ball over on the next two possessions and trailed by seven points or more the rest of the way.
“We didn’t play 100 percent tonight,” DeWitt said.
“The goal is, for me as a coach, to get our guys to play 100 percent every minute of the game. When we do that, then we’re dangerous.”
Both Lambert squads are off until Dec. 28, when they begin the Lanier High School Christmas Tournament.