When Lambert’s boys basketball team entered the locker room
at the halfway point of their season opener against Brookwood on Thursday, they
knew their highly-touted squad wasn’t doing quite enough.
But despite what they perceived as a lukewarm opening half to their season, the defending Region 5-7A champion Longhorns soon rebounded, riding a 22-point fourth quarter to down the visiting Broncos, 83-71.
“I think we just got back to what we're used to doing, what we're better at doing, what we always do, and that's being a good team and playing good basketball,” power forward Colin Granger said. “After we talked in the locker room and got told what we need to focus on, I think that kind of helped us get going.”
While Granger, Braxton Beaty and Luke Champion all contributed to some short runs in the third, Brookwood almost forced a tie at the end of that period after the first and second quarters ended with the game knotted up. However, a last-second shot from Kedric Barrett at the buzzer made it 61-59 at the start of the fourth.
Barrett’s shot began a 17-2 run that the Longhorns mostly began at the start of the fourth, with Champion connecting on three 3s during that stretch to get the Lambert lead to 76-61 with just over four minutes to play.
“We moved the ball around a lot better,” Lambert coach Scott Bracco said. “I'm proud of the way the guys played, and I think one of the biggest things we have to do is play great defense and play together.”
With three minutes to go, Granger, who was rebounding much better than he did early on, found the rim for the first of two dunks. Also contributing greatly to the Longhorns was point guard Mitch Ganote, who was finding open teammates with ease down the stretch. He finished with a triple double, with 18 points, 10 steals, and a school record 15 assists.
“I'm just doing whatever I can to help my team win,” Ganote said. “I was feeding my teammates a lot. Luke was knocking down shots like crazy. Colin was a beast inside. Everybody was just playing great. Makes it easy on me.”
For Granger, his focus early on was on getting more rebounds, which he had a tougher time doing in the first half. Partly because of that, Brookwood kept the game very close throughout the first three quarters, drawing to 19-19 and 44-44 ties at the end of the first and second, respectively. Meanwhile, the Longhorns struggled to put uncontested runs together.
“Brookwood's a very good team,” Bracco said. “They're very aggressive and athletic. They play great defense and shoot the ball well.”
Despite eventually winning, Bracco wasn’t exactly pleased, and will be looking for more from his squad, particularly on the defensive end.
“We're not happy with our performance tonight,” he said. “We need to go back to the drawing board and figure out some things that we need to work on and really improve this year.”
Granger finished with a team-leading 23 points to go with 12 rebounds. Champion finished with 18 points.