The chance was there for Lambert girls basketball to at least tie the game at the final seconds ticked off the clock.
Twice, in fact.
The Lady Longhorns had two looks at the basket in the final 15 seconds but missed both to seal a 42-40 loss to Chattahoochee on Tuesday in a Region 6-AAAAAA game at home.
Lambert’s sixth straight loss dropped its record to 5-11 overall, 1-6 in the region and left head coach Tony Watkins still searching for his 600th career victory.
Lambert led 37-35 with 2:37 left in the game, but Chattahoochee promptly went on a 7-1 run to take a 42-38 lead with 24.8 seconds left.
Even then, the Lady Longhorns responded. Ashley Johnson made a coast-to-coast lay-up to cut the lead to 2 with 17.3 seconds left. After the Lady Cougars missed the front end of a bonus, Lambert got the rebound and pushed the ball up the court, the final seconds ticking away.
Freshman Leah Cote missed a deep jump shot. Johnson got the rebound but her wild put-back floater missed. Lambert missed a chance to give its coach a significant milestone.
That wasn’t on Watkins’ mind after the game. The Lady Longhorns have more chances, though the immediate prospects aren’t promising with upcoming games against South Forsyth (15-2) on Tuesday followed by McIntosh (10-7) and West Forsyth (10-5).
Instead, as the boys team warmed up, Watkins sat in the first row of the bleachers under the home basket and stared out at the court.
“When we start doing the things we have to do to deserve to win a game,” Watkins said, “then we’ll win a game.”
Lambert did enough to stay in the game Tuesday. The Lady Longhorns’ largest deficit in the game was 5, and that was in the first quarter.
When Chattahoochee took a 19-15 lead in the second quarter, Cote made a lay-up and Johnson scored four of her team-high 13 points to give Lambert a 21-19 lead at halftime.
Twice more the Lady Cougars pushed their lead to 4 in the third quarter, first to 25-21, then to 30-26. Each time, Lambert responded.
Kara Kidwell hit a floater and Johnson made a lay-up to tie it at 25 with 3:06 left in the third quarter. Cote made a transition lay-up and a mid-range jump shot to tie it at 30 at the start of the fourth quarter.
But it wasn’t enough, not with Chattahoochee making seven 3-pointers, or the Longhorns getting to the foul line just six times (3-for-6) while the Lady Cougars went 13 (6-fot-13).