In the first matchup of the season between Lambert and Milton, the Longhorns held the Eagles to 29 points in a lopsided home win.
During the rematch Friday in Fulton County, it appeared as though Lambert would receive a stiffer test with Milton getting off to a solid start.
However, the Longhorns switched up their defense after a rough first quarter and never looked back en route to a 71-39 victory in Region 6-7A action.
“We haven’t pressed in practice much, so we wanted to do that tonight,” Lambert head coach Brian Moon said. “They did a nice job of beating it.
“We just went back to halfcourt and kept them to two points in the second quarter. That was the difference in the game.”
While the Longhorns had little issue racking up points in the opening period, their defense struggled to create turnovers and instead allowed the Eagles to convert layups and free throws to keep pace.
Milton looked set to blow past its season average of 43 points per game after staying within 23-18 entering the second quarter.
A bevy of fouls contributed to a lack of rhythm from both sides. All four quarters featured double-digit total fouls, including 15 in the first.
“There were a lot of fouls called on both sides,” Moon said. “The first quarter lasted forever.
“We did a good job of battling back. We have a lot of depth, a lot of kids who can play. They did a nice job.”
Even though Lambert understandably emptied its bench near the end of the night, the Longhorns needed to lean a little more on their depth during the early stages due to a season-ending injury to a member of their main rotation.
“I was pleased with our kids” Moon said. “We had a devastating loss. One of our kids tore their ACL yesterday morning in practice. Some other kids stepped up and did a good job.”
The collective group did an excellent job defensively in the second period, allowing the offense to compile 16 straight points to end the half up 40-20.
“We did a good job of keeping them in front,” Moon said of the defensive performance in the quarter. “We rebounded pretty well.”
Lambert (17-5, 6-1) didn't quite manage to double up Milton (9-11, 2-5) in the third quarter, taking a 59-30 lead into the final stanza before closing out the blowout win.
Annarose Tyre led the Longhorns with 17 points, despite an uncharacteristically tough night at the foul line. Briley Elder knocked down four 3-pointers and totaled 16 points.
The duo will be looking to lift Lambert into a first-place tie in the region Jan. 31, when South Forsyth visits its rival.
“We have to stay healthy — that’s really important,” Moon said of what his team will emphasize during the home stretch of the regular season. “Fine-tune a little bit of everything. Execute a little bit better. Don’t be sloppy with the ball. We were a little bit sloppy with it at times.
“Just do the little things that you don’t see on SportsCenter but that make you a champion.”