Just call him Matty Ice.
With Lambert’s boys trailing by one point and under 15 seconds remaining, Jake Morris drove the lane, drew a double-team and passed the ball out to an open Matt Melms, who calmly drained a 3-pointer from the left wing with 12.8 seconds remaining.
Centennial had two chances near the basket to send the game to overtime but neither shot went in, as Lambert earned a 52-50 victory over the Knights on Tuesday at The Horn.
Melms’ game-winning basket accounted for his only points of the night
"I was just wide open and I [took the shot], Melms said. "Luckily, it went in and it was all we needed. … I didn’t feel any pressure. I knew when I got [the pass] I was taking [the shot]."
The Longhorns (14-9, 8-4 Region 6-AAAAAA) have won four of their last five region games and the win avenged a 15-point loss to the Knights (14-10, 9-4) in mid-January.
"I had faith in Matt taking that shot," Lambert head coach Scott Bracco said. "He’s been playing a great role this year, averaging 8.5 assists per game, but he’s [also] a great shooter.
"Jake did a great job of penetrating the paint and kicking it out and lucky for us the ball went [in]."
Morris and T.J. Russell paced the Longhorns with 10 points, while Will Perry finished the game for Centennial with 15.
Both teams were sluggish in the first quarter, as Centennial led 7-5 at the end of the period. The Knights came out of the break on fire and went on a 17-7 run, prompting Bracco to use a timeout at the 3:47 mark.
The Longhorns responded nicely and closed the gap to go into halftime only down 27-23.
"We made a good run at them in the second quarter," Bracco said. "We switched up the defense a little bit and we just got a little bit more aggressive with it and they turned the ball over and it worked out for us because we scored in transition for some easy baskets."
Centennial came out strong in the third quarter and took a 10-point lead less than three minutes into the period, but once again, Lambert answered with its own run and finished the quarter behind 40-39.
The Longhorns tied the game for the first time at 42 apiece with 6:46 left in the fourth quarter and kept pace until Morris connected on a 3-pointer with 2:51 left that gave them their first lead of the game and brought the score to 47-46.
The Knights didn’t go away, as Perry knocked down a jumper to reclaim the lead and take a 50-49 advantage with 38 seconds left.
That was Centennial’s last basket before Melms sealed the game with his shot from behind the arc.
Trevor Shipes broke the previous Lambert rebounding record by two with 25 rebounds, including 14 offensive boards. The 6-foot-6 forward also chipped in six points.
"I’m extremely proud of the guys," Bracco said. "Our goal was to play great defense and dominate the boards, and Trevor did a great job on the boards tonight.
"We’re just trying to get better with every game and preparing for [the region tournament]."
The Longhorns will try to continue their success at home against Chattahoochee on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Lambert (girls) 50, Centennial 39
Lambert head coach Seth Thompson couldn’t quite put his finger on what changed, but he liked the result.
After trailing by five to enter the fourth quarter, the Lady Longhorns went on a 20-4 run and snapped a four-game losing skid with a 50-39 victory over Centennial on Tuesday at The Horn.
"We didn’t change much at halftime," Thompson said. "We just talked about the pick and roll and how we weren’t going to hedge that as much. That’s really the only thing we changed on defense, just making sure we played great help [defense] on [post player Paige Elliott].
"Their whole offense goes through her. We just did a great job defensively against her tonight."
Senior forward Peyton Card scored 10 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter to help Lambert (9-14, 4-8 Region 6-AAAAAA) get payback from a five-point loss to the Lady Knights (17-6, 8-5) in January.
Card’s 18 points were a game-high, while Centennial’s Becca Davis (14) and Elliott (12) finished in double figures.
"I guess it’s been a while this season for me to find what I can do to contribute to this team and I just finally found what turned it on," Card said. "I try my best to do well under pressure, that’s probably the main thing I’ve been working on.
"We worked together and stepped it up."
Both teams combined for 16 turnovers in the first quarter, but Lambert held a 9-8 advantage to start the second period before taking a 21-17 lead at halftime.
Elliott scored a basket and was fouled with 58 seconds left in the third quarter to give Centennial a two-point edge and eventually claimed a 35-30 lead over Lambert.
The Lady Longhorns’ responded as Card hit a pair of free throws with 4:46 left to tie the game at 35-35 and her and-one shot and free throw gave the Lady Longhorns their first lead since midway through the third quarter.
Centennial had trouble passing the ball and turned it over eight times in the final quarter, giving easy baskets for Lambert that put the game out of reach.
"Peyton has had an up and down season, and that by far, was her best performance of the season," Thompson said.
"She’s played good against good teams, but she played great tonight. She played great defense, she shot well from the foul line, she had a couple of nice takes. … She really just stepped it up tonight."
The Lady Longhorns will play host to Chattahoochee on Friday at 6 p.m.