South Forsyth’s boys pushed Lambert in their second meeting of the season, but couldn’t overcome a strong all-around performance by Logan Bush.
Bush dropped in a game-high 21 points to go along with eight rebounds and five assists, as the Longhorns gradually pulled away in the second half for a 60-47 victory over the War Eagles on Friday at the Eagles’ Nest. Bush hit 60 percent of his shots (9 of 15) during the game.
"We love playing South [and] love playing here," Bush said. "[We were] just moving the ball really well and making the extra pass underneath the basket. We got ourselves some easy points [that way]."
The Longhorns improved to 2-0 against the War Eagles this season. Lambert defeated South 73-46 in the Region 6-AAAAAA opener on Dec. 7 at Lambert.
Lambert (10-7, 5-3 region) led almost the entire game on Friday but struggled to get much breathing room through the first two periods and was ahead by only three points, 25-22, at halftime. The Longhorns never made a notable run in the third quarter, but extended the lead to 43-35 going into the fourth quarter despite the efforts of Jack Armstrong (team-high 19 points), who scored nine of South’s 13 points in the period.
"Bush made a couple of big plays early in the third quarter," South head coach Manson Hill said. "We struggled scoring in the third quarter for a while. [Lambert] coach [Scott] Bracco made a couple of nice adjustments to take away some of the things we were doing and we didn’t quite react [well enough]."
Bush continued to set the tone in the fourth quarter, dropping in a spinning layup in the paint to extend Lambert’s lead to double-digits, 49-38, for the first time all night with 4:07 remaining. The Longhorns scored their next two baskets off assists by Bush, who then came up with a steal and connected on a jump shot to boost the advantage to 57-41 with just over a minute to play.
"We knew it was going to be a battle because it’s a big-time rival," Bracco said. "... I felt like in the second half our defense came up big. We were able to extend the lead to six to 10 pretty much throughout the third quarter and in the fourth quarter we did a good job of closing out the game."
Lambert was missing guard Brennan Gagen, while the War Eagles played without seniors Doug Cotter and Greer Landry.
"I thought our team battled hard," Hill said. "We’ve closed the gap [from the previous meeting with Lambert]. We’re just going to keep pressing until we catch up."
Forward Trevor Shipes added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Longhorns, while point guard Matt Melms scored 10 and dished out eight assists.
"This is the first game [we’ve played after] we’ve had everybody in practice," Bracco said. "We’ve battled the injury bug and the sick bug and finally have Matt Melms back. Our rhythm was broken right after we won the Lanier tournament and hopefully this gets us back into a rhythm."
South Forsyth (girls) 39, Lambert 26
Sarah Myers’ huge first half made all the difference in a game where both teams’ offenses struggled for long stretches of play.
Myers, a freshman, scored 18 of her game-high 20 points in the first half as South Forsyth built a 21-point lead and held on to defeat Lambert 39-26 on Friday at the Eagles’ Nest. South (13-4, 5-3 Region 6-AAAAAA), which has won its last four games, completed a regular season sweep of the Lady Longhorns.
The Lady War Eagles struggled against the press in the third quarter, when their lead was trimmed to eight points, but preserved the win by limiting Lambert (7-10, 2-6) to just two points in the final period.
"Offensively in the second half it was a lot more physical ball game and we struggled too much with it," South head coach Keith Gravitt said. "We’ve got to do a better job of handling leads and building leads when you get those, and taking care of the basketball.
"I think we had about 21 turnovers tonight. It doesn’t equate to a really efficient offense when that happens."
It was a different story in the first half, as South built a 10-0 edgeon the Lady Longhorns midway through the opening quarter. Myers knocked down three 3-pointers in the first period and added a fourth just before the buzzer at halftime to give the Lady War Eagles a 28-9 cushion.
"Myers, she killed us with the threes," Lambert head coach Seth Thompson said. "She was shooting well tonight."
South added the opening bucket of the second half to push the lead to 30-9, but Lambert’s full-court press stifled the Lady War Eagles the rest of the way.
South turnovers led to several transition baskets during a 13-0 run by the Lady Longhorns that cut the gap to 30-22.
Ally Welch finally stopped Lambert’s scored spree with a basket inside and moments later, Lambert senior forward Peyton Card was forced out of the game with a leg injury. Card scored six of her eight points during the third period.
The Lady Longhorns were already without starting shooting guard Ellie Hammer, who missed the game with a concussion, while South was without senior Rachel Myers.
"We didn’t want to have to press too much," Thompson said. "We had to scrap our game plan and come out and play more aggressive [in the third] ... but in the end we ran out of energy. "We couldn’t get a bucket [in the fourth quarter]."
South held Lambert without a single point for more than seven minutes in the final period until Ashley Johnson scored with 58 seconds remaining in the game. The two teams combined for only six points in the fourth quarter.
Kelsey Morkem led Lambert with 10 points.
"I’m real proud of the team," Gravitt said. "Playing three games again this week, that’s two weeks in a row, has been real tough, physically on the players."
Both South squads were set to host Blessed Trinity on Saturday ahead of a region matchup with North Forsyth on Tuesday in Coal Mountain. Lambert’s teams travel to West Forsyth on Tuesday.