Lambert’s boys basketball team may have been 8-1 going into Tuesday night's matchup with South Forsyth, but familiarity can sometimes bring out the best in an opponent.
The War Eagles were finding their shots throughout the game's first three quarters, but as the matchup went on, the Longhorn's talent discrepancy began to show itself. With 6:19 left in the game, Lambert's Colin Granger picked up a dropped South ball and went up uncontested for a dunk to give the Longhorns a 15-point lead, but more importantly, the momentum.
It was just one play that Lambert utilized down the stretch, as the Longhorns opened up Region 5-7A play with a grinding 85-68 victory.
“Our kids played hard,” Lambert coach Scott Bracco said. “South came out and banged some shots early in the first half, and in the second half we had to commit to playing better defense. I’m proud of our defensive effort in the second half.”
Luke Champion and Braxton Beaty started the Longhorns off well, with each of them hitting threes early on to help Lambert to an an early 12-5 lead with 4:58 left in the quarter. South’s Corey Hereford connected from deep with 4:14 left in the period to help South climb back in. The War Eagles finding ways to match the Longhorns was a running theme throughout the first half.
After a putback layup by South’s Cory Schmitz, Lambert’s Will Baker connected on a three, giving the Longhorns a 23-18 lead going into the second.
“South came out and shot lights out as expected,” Lambert point guard Mitch Ganote said. “They like to play their best game against us.”
Lambert began the second quarter with an 8-2 run, but with two threes by Hereford at the end of the first half, including one at the buzzer, South drew to the game’s closest margin: a slim 42-41 edge for Lambert heading into the locker room.
“I think in the first half we were trying to press and it wasn’t working,” Ganote said. “They got a lot of open shots. In the second half we kind of brought it back to half court a little bit, played more straight up movement.”
It took some time, but Lambert’s defensive adjustments eventually paid off. Initially, South continued to match every Lambert shot, with Jefferson Stepp and Cory Schmitz contributing. The tides began to turn with 3:50 left in the third, though, with Chance Thacker getting a three-point play after getting fouled while taking the ball to the bucket off a turnover.
Ganote found Baker alone in the corner for a three a few plays later, before Granger’s slam all but sealed the game.
Ganote ended his night with a triple double, with 20 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds. Granger finished his night with a team-leading 24 points and seven boards.
South girls 52, Lambert 33
South’s girls held full control of their matchup with Lambert from the opening tip, beginning the game with a 15-0 run to start the game. Lambert scored its only field goal of the first quarter with 3:17 left to the second. South never came close to giving up the lead and cruised to the critical region win.
South’s Ashley Breindl led all scorers with 21 points on the night. Ansley Dean scored seven points for Lambert.