On opening night in Region 6-7A opener back in December, Lambert scored 23 first-half points in a 10-point road win at Denmark. In the rematch, the Longhorns put up 23 points in the opening period en route to a dominant 74-34 victory over the Danes Friday at home.
“The key is defensively for us,” Lambert head coach Brian Moon said. “If we come out and defend, we’re pretty good.”
In arguably the Longhorns' best performance of the season, that defensive pressure started from almost the opening tip.
Denmark (4-16, 1-4) went scoreless over the opening 2 minutes, 30 seconds. The Danes later called timeout, trailing 10-3 midway through the quarter. Another timeout followed with 2:13 left in the quarter to try to halt a 9-0 Longhorns run.
“Our press was effective tonight,” Moon said. “We turned them over some.
“I have a lot of respect for them. They have two of the best players in our region. I thought we did a really nice job on those two. We did a good job on all of them tonight.”
Those two players Moon referenced are Emma Hempker and Hannah Lopez.
In the first meeting, the duo combined for 34 of the team's 45 points, with Hempker racking up 27. This time around, Lambert limited Hempker to a dozen points, while Lopez posted a team-high 19.
“Lopez is really great off the dribble, and Hempker is great at reading screens and getting open,” Moon said of trying to slow down the pair. “They’ve got a quick release, so it’s very difficult. We were a little bit tighter on them tonight. We played with a little bit more help.”
Most of the points scored by Denmark's one-two punch came after the game had already been decided.
Lambert led 23-7 after one quarter, extended its advantage to 47-18 by halftime and held a comfortable 63-31 edge entering the final stanza. Outside of the team's seven 3-pointers, most of the Longhorns' points came right at the rim off of fast-break layups or offensive rebounds.
Briley Elder put together a monster first half, scoring all 14 of her points before halftime. Mackenzie Weyer notched 19 points and matched Elder with a team-high three treys. Annarose Tyre contributed 14 points.
The victory continued Lambert's offensive explosion since a 54-29 defeat to region leader South Forsyth Jan. 10 on the road.
“We didn’t shoot it very well against South,” Moon said. “They have a super veteran team. They have four girls who have played a lot of basketball.
“We just got to work to get better. We have a lot of areas we can still get better in. Our shot selection is still not great. Tonight, we made more shots. We didn’t take great shots all night, but we did a good job running our offense and getting layups.”
The Longhorns (15-5, 4-1) will look to solidify their spot just behind the War Eagles in the region standings Jan. 24, when they travel to West Forsyth. A win for the Wolverines (3-2 region) would forge a tie for second place.
“We’ve got a super tough game against West on Tuesday,” Moon said. “We have to play really well. They have a lot of veteran players over there. They may not be as deep as they’ve been in the past, but they certainly have good players.
“It’s going to take a great effort to beat them, for sure. They’re tough. They’re going to use the shot clock and make you defend for 35 seconds, so hopefully, we’ll be up to the task.”