It seemed like the Lambert boys basketball team had finally discovered its foil matched up against Meadowcreek at home on Friday night in the first round of the Class 7A state tournament, but Andrew Melms hit a spinning, falling jump shot as the clock expired to give Lambert a 72-70 win.
Coming off of its first region loss of the season, it seemed things were finally starting to go poorly for the four-loss Longhorns. It was the first time in two seasons Lambert lost a region game, and it was the first time since December that Lambert had to play a game following a loss.
If circumstances couldn’t be more difficult, the flu virus begged to differ. Starter Matt Ganote, who covered the opposition’s best scorer all season, was out with the sickness and shortening Lambert’s depth.
Meadowcreek trotted out three players taller than 6-foot-5. Lambert was clearly outmatched in size, making the loss of Ganote even more impactful. The size difference was most apparent in the first half of the game. Lambert was being outrebounded and gave up plenty of easy looks to Meadowcreek’s big men.
Lambert trailed by as many as 11 points in the second quarter, and the frustration from the lack of offensive chemistry was evident on the faces of Longhorns players. But when the third quarter started, it was an entirely different ballgame.
The Meadowcreek lead evaporated in just 1 minute 47 seconds. Lambert went on an 11-2 run to start the third quarter for a 38-37 lead, its first of the game since the opening basket.
“We needed to come out and move the ball a little bit more than we did in the first half,” Lambert Coach Scott Bracco said. “We played together as a team better.”
The next 14 minutes of play was as much back-and-forth basketball as you could handle. Lambert got big contributions from shooters Musa Thompson, Jordan McIlwain, and Damon Stoudamire, who combined for 38 points in the second half.
But the biggest play of the game came from the senior who has led the Longhorns all season. Point guard Andrew Melms has been an anchor for the team for three years. He won all-region first team honors this season, and came up big countless numbers of times throughout his career.
But none was bigger than Friday night.
After being held scoreless for the duration of the game, Melms stayed ready and confident. With the game tied at 70, Lambert passed the ball around for over a minute to hold for the last shot of regulation. With about eight seconds left, Melms drove to his left, stopped, spun, and elevated over his defender.
The next sound was the simultaneous swish of the net with the buzzer of the scoreboard.
“We were just trying to run out that one minute and get a good look at it,” Melms siad. “Coach let me make a play. Coach believed in me. I had a feeling somebody was going to hit that shot, and it just happened to be me.”