For the first few minutes of Friday night’s game, the West Forsyth boys gave Lambert all the Longhorns could handle.
West needed the hot shooting (and Lambert’s cold start from the field) to keep up for all 32 minutes against the relentless Longhorns. It didn’t continue.
Lambert responded with an 18-2 run to end the first quarter and Artese Gatlin scored 14 of the Horns’ 29 second-quarter points as Lambert cruised to an 81-56 win at The Horn.
As has become the norm for Scott Bracco’s team, nine Lambert (9-2 overall, 6-1 Region 6-AAAAAA) players scored, led by Tanner Hall’s 19 points. Gatlin finished with 16 points, and Patrick Noble and Connor Mannion added 13 and 10, respectively.
Jimmy Staiti scored 16 and pulled down 11 rebounds for the Wolverines (4-6, 2-5).
“We had a little bit of a slow start, but we settled down,” Bracco said. “Our defense got us going a little bit.”
Lambert forced 10 West turnovers in the first quarter, especially once Grant Lancaster entered off the bench. The senior wing ramped up Lambert’s pressure defense as the Horns flipped a 9-3 deficit to a 21-11 lead after one quarter.
It was Gatlin’s turn to give the Horns a boost in the second quarter. He scored 11 points in a row during one stretch and beat the halftime buzzer with a 3 to punctuate what turned in to a dominant first half for Lambert.
“We got a great spark from Artese and Grant,” Bracco said. “Both of those guys played their best game tonight. We need guys like that to come off the bench and spark the defense.”
A strange sight in the third quarter: Lambert was whistled for 10 fouls within six minutes, while West had not been called for a single foul. The Wolverines shot 11 free throws in the quarter to the Horns’ zero. No worries, though—Lambert’s work was done.
“We can come at you in waves, at times,” Bracco said. “I love seeing active hands, kids communicating with each other, taking charges—that’s when the coaching staff is excited about effort.”
Lambert heads in to the Christmas break at 6-1 in region play, the only blemish being last Friday’s loss to Alpharetta. The Horns travel to the Pickens Holiday Classic next Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, while West hosts the Wolverine Winter Classic on those same days.
Lambert 81, West Forsyth 56
West Forsyth 11 18 17 10_56
Lambert 21 29 14 17_81
West Forsyth: Staiti 16, Morris 12, Peterson 8, Beatty 7, Fuller 7, Macer 4.
Lambert: Hall 19, Gatlin 16, Noble 13, Mannion 10, Lancaster 8, Morris 7, Kassa 4, Morkem 2, Melms 2.
2-pt Goals: West 18-34, Lambert 24-44. 3-pt Goals: West 2-7, Lambert 6-14. Free Throws: West 14-24, Lambert 15-19. Rebounds: West 26, Lambert 24. Turnovers: West 19, Lambert 11.