CHEROKEE AT LAMBERT
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Records, rankings, seedings: Cherokee is 17-11, unranked in Class AAAAAA and the No. 4 seed from Region 5; Lambert is 23-5, unranked and the No. 1 seed from Region 6.
Coaches: Roger Kvam, Cherokee; Scott Bracco, Lambert.
Stats: Cherokee – 51.5 PPG, 47.3 PAPG; Lambert – 68.3 PPG, 54.0 PAPG.
Playoff history: Cherokee – 9 appearances, 3 Final Fours; Lambert – 3 appearances.
What to know: There was little doubt Lambert was a playoff team, but there was plenty of doubt the Longhorns could take down Alpharetta in the Region 6-AAAAAA championship without starting guards Tanner Hall (mono) and Jake Morris (ankle). And yet, Lambert did just that. Others (Artese Gatlin, Andrew Melms, Patrick Noble, etc.) simply stepped up, and the Longhorns made crucial plays down the stretch to claim the program’s first-ever region title. The region title was crucial for Lambert’s hopes of a deep playoff run. A loss to Alpharetta would have meant the Longhorns faced perennial powerhouse Milton. Instead, Lambert gets Cherokee. The Longhorns should have a definite advantage in size with Conner Mannion, Trevon McSwain and Ross Morkem, as no one on Cherokee’s roster is taller than 6-foot-4.
What’s next: The winner faces the Langston Hughes-Hillgrove winner.