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Lambert boys use balanced effort to cruise past North
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Lambert junior guard Tanner Hall didn't start Tuesday against North Forsyth because of flu-like symptoms but still finished with nine points. - photo by Micah Green

Lambert 79, North Forsyth 36

North Forsyth    6     8    15    7_36
Lambert          23   22    25    9_79

North Forsyth: Bureau 10, Holtzclaw 8, Rogers 6.

Lambert: Morris 15, Morkem 13, Gatlin 9, Hall 9, Melms 8, Noble 8, Mannion 7, Kassa 6.

Scott Bracco wasn’t exaggerating when he said before the season that Lambert could go 10 or 12 players deep in any game.

Lambert’s capabilities were on full display Tuesday night. Nine different players scored for Lambert, led by Jake Morris’ 15 points and Ross Morkem’s 13 points and seven rebounds, as the Horns built a 31-point halftime lead on North Forsyth and coasted to a 79-36 home win.

It was close for all of five minutes and 39 seconds.

With North (2-5 overall, 1-1 Region 6-AAAAAA) trailing 11-6 and hanging in, Dakota Holtzclaw picked up his second foul at the 2:21 mark of the first quarter, relegating the Raiders’ best offensive weapon to the bench.

Lambert (5-1 overall, 2-0 Region 6-AAAAAA) seized control while Holtzclaw watched — the Horns ripped off 16 straight points, and scored eight more unanswered when he picked up his third foul with more than six minutes still to play in the second quarter.

“Their pressure really hurt us,” North coach Brian Moon said. “They made us play bad. We freak out when things don’t go just right.”

Bracco sent two defenders at Holtzclaw every time he did touch the ball, forcing the 6-foot-5 wing into contested jump shots. He finished with eight points; Chad Bureau led the Raiders with 10.

“Tonight was a balanced attack, on both ends of the floor, really,” Bracco said. “We came out and played hard on the defensive end and stuck to the game plan. Offensively, we still have some work to do as far as execution, but overall, I’d say we played a pretty good game.”

Lambert spent the Thanksgiving break at a tournament in Mobile, Ala., where the Longhorns went 2-1, with wins over Daphne (Ala.) and Foley (Ala.) and a loss to St. Martins, the top-ranked team in Mississippi.

Bracco said his team ate — quite a bit — and got to know one another better. It was just one game on Tuesday night, but Lambert looked like a vastly improved version of the team that beat South Forsyth on Nov. 21.

The Longhorns forced more than 20 turnovers and out-rebounded North by double-digits, despite the absence of Trevon McSwain, who re-injured a hip injury originally suffered during football season. McSwain will go for an MRI within the next week. Tanner Hall, meanwhile, did not start while recovering from flu-like symptoms, but still finished with nine points in limited minutes.

Andrew Melms drained a two-handed heave from half-court as the third-quarter buzzer sounded, the best indication of any that it was Lambert’s night.