Lambert had every chance to wilt on the road Friday night.
Up by seven at halftime, the Lady Longhorns watched as Jenna Staiti scored the first nine points of the second half. West twice cut a nine-point fourth quarter deficit to just two.
Maybe earlier this season, Jaime Fisher’s sophomore-laden team would’ve caved. Not anymore, though. Lambert made eight free throws inside the final two minutes, and West’s corner 3-point attempt at the buzzer was no good, giving the Lady Longhorns a 45-43 win, their third straight.
“I think we’re finally starting to hit our stride,” Fisher said. “These girls have been through a lot of adversity this year, both mentally and physically, but now they’re starting to get it and responding to that adversity.”
Ashley Johnson led Lambert (12-11, 7-9 Region 6-AAAAAA) with 13, including a 7-for-8 mark from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Leah Cote had 10, eight during a second-quarter run that put Lambert up by 11, and Molly Williams added 10 points.
Jenna Staiti scored a game-high 30 for West (18-5, 13-3), including 20 in the second half, to go along with 17 rebounds and six blocked shots. Lambert, using Cote, Geneva Rumer and a rotating cast, harangued the Lady Wolverines’ junior center and made it difficult even to get her the ball. Still, Staiti scored six straight points inside the final 26 seconds to give West a chance at the win.
“We did a great job on Jenna, I thought, and she still ended up with 30,” Fisher said, laughing. “That clock couldn’t run fast enough.”
Fisher said the Lady Longhorns, winners of their last two games, came in thinking they could beat West. Belief materialized in the second quarter, when Cote scored eight quick points and Lambert all of a sudden led, 22-11.
It would’ve been cruel, then, had Jasmine Rodriguez’s 3-pointer from the corner gone down as time expired. It bounced twice off the rim in front of the Gulo Gang—there mostly for free pizza—and Lambert walked out with the upset.
Lambert girls 45, West Forsyth 43
Lambert 8 14 7 16_45
West Forsyth 7 8 13 15_43
Lambert: Johnson 13; Cote 10; Williams 10; Kidwell 6; Rumer 6.
West Forsyth: Staiti 30; Ortlip 6; Rodriguez 4; Quincy 3.