For the first time in nine seasons, Lambert's boys basketball program will enter the school year with a new head coach.
Clay Wages is set to become just the third boys basketball coach in Lambert's history, taking over for Scott Bracco, who was hired last month to launch East Forsyth's boys basketball program.
“Lambert is a special place with special people and a great community," Wages said. "The administration is top-notch, and the other coaches in the building. I couldn’t ask for a better place and I couldn’t be more excited to get started here.”
Wages spent the past four seasons at Lambert, coaching the JV team and also serving as a varsity assistant during the 2020-21 season. Previously, he spent four seasons at Central Gwinnett and graduated from the University of Georgia after two years playing basketball at LaGrange College.
Lambert reached the playoffs all nine seasons under Bracco, who Wages said "exemplifies hard work."
“Coach Bracco, he’s good at what he does," Wages said. "He built Lambert into a highly successful program. He taught me how to do it the right way, and fortunately when he brought me in, I was able to help sustain the success he had already built. He left the program in great shape, so I couldn’t be more excited to take over.”
Wages is already familiar with Lambert's underclassmen, having coached the Longhorns' sub-varsity players. Lambert's JV team finished the 2020-21 season 14-0.
“I couldn’t ask for a better spot to start coaching as a first-year head coach," Wages said. "I mean, the kids we have are phenomenal. The rising junior class, they have a chance to be special. We’re going to have great senior leadership next year. Our rising freshmen and sophomores, they bring a lot to the table as well.”
Lambert went 17-11 and finished fourth in Region 6-7A before bowing out in the first round of the playoffs to eventual Class 7A runner-up Berkmar.
The Longhorns graduate a pair of talented players in Paul Lunguana [19 points, 10 rebounds per game] and Mason Barnes [18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals per game], along with six other seniors.
“We have some key returners in James Tyre and Niko Wilson, two returning starters who will be juniors," Wages said. "The biggest challenge … Mason and Paul’s production with scoring the ball. That was probably 50 percent of our points, so being able to put the ball in the hole is something we’re going to do by playing fast, playing aggressive and using our guard play to make teams play at our pace. By getting out in transition, we’ll be able to kind of pick up the slack, and I think that you’ll see some other guys picking up Mason and Paul’s scoring as a whole. We’ll do it as a group instead of one or two guys.”