After losing the Region 6-AAAAAA championship in devastating fashion, it would have been easy for the Lambert Longhorns to feel sorry for themselves moving forward. Instead, they felt sorry for their next opponent.
That overtime defeat to Alpharetta served as a wakeup call to Scott Bracco’s club, adding fuel to an already raging fire—and for Grayson, Lambert’s first round opponent in the Class AAAAAA state tournament, that was bad, bad news.
Coming out of the gate with a high energy and aggressive mindset, the Longhorns took care of Grayson in convincing fashion on Saturday night, winning 78-58. Lambert was up by so much after three quarters (64-34) that officials took two minutes off the clock in the fourth to expedite the inevitable.
Without a doubt, this was exactly what the doctor ordered.
“It was our night,” said senior Logan Bush. “We felt good coming into this one. It was a good team effort and thankfully we finished on top.
“We had to do better handling pressure [than against Alpharetta], and I thought we did a lot better at that.”
Bush finished with 18 points, 10 of which came in that abbreviated fourth period. Furthermore, he contributed eight boards—helping the Longhorns dominate the battle down low from start to finish.
Lambert out-rebounded Grayson 35-25, preventing the Rams from stringing together a legitimate comeback.
“We did a great job keeping them off the glass,” said Bracco. “That was big for us.”
Lambert’s defense stood strong beyond the paint, as well. Rarely did a Grayson guard get a clean look at a jump shot, at least not until the waning minutes of regulation when the contest was all but decided. Six-foot-3 senior Marquise Lanier finished with 12 points for Grayson, but he was the only Ram to reach double digits.
Conversely, Lambert had three players amass at least 10 points. In addition to Bush, seniors Joe Bates and Trevor Shipes contributed 20 and 14, respectively. That trio accounted for exactly two-thirds of the Longhorn’s offensive output, carrying the team from start to finish.
Bracco, a defensive-minded coach by nature, singled out the performance of senior Joe Bates, who didn’t collect many rebounds but played tight man-to-man coverage and forced a number of turnovers with a high-pressure approach.
“I’m extremely proud with what our guys did today defensively,” Bracco said. “It was a total team effort today on [Grayson’s] end of the court.”
Lambert didn’t let its loss in the region final affect them, but putting that game in the rearview mirror was easier said than done and required a certain approach from the coaching staff.
Rather than fixating on the big picture, the team needed to take matters day-by-day. So far, that’s worked out just fine.
“Our goal all year has been to improve every day, whether it’s a practice or a game,” said Bracco. “That’s the focus that we have. We’re going to get back to work on Monday.”