Lambert girls basketball won its first region game of the season Tuesday on the road, edging North Forsyth 53-40 at Coal Mountain. Lambert's senior point guard Ashley Johnson never made a shot, going 0 for 7 from the field, but made up for her off night by filling just about every other category on the stat sheet—she registered seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and knocked down 7-of-8 at the freethrow line, all while setting the tone by matching the intensity of an energetic bunch from North.
“Ashley does a great job as our leader and as our point guard,” Lambert head coach Jaime Fisher said. “She's a senior, we need her to step up like that, and we try to tell our girls about the little things like assists, making extra passes and diving for loose balls. Even though she had no points tonight she did a great job with everything else.”
Usual starters, North's Amber Jones and Haley Simpson came off the bench after head coach Eric Herrick decided to start a different lineup to get his veterans focused. Jones got the message, knocking down eight three-pointers to finish with 26 total points. Simpson grabbed eight rebounds and totaled seven points.
“I was trying to get those two kids to work a little bit harder in practice,” Herrick said. “Amber is a great shooter, phenomenal kid. This week we preached defense all week and went with the five kids that I thought guarded the basketball and worked their hardest in practice, and we are searching right now for a good combination, but also trying to motivate a couple of kids that we know are going to be keys for us going down the stretch.”
North (2-3, 1-2 Region 6-AAAAAA) didn't get its first bucket until just over a minute remained in the first quarter, but knocked down three treys to catch up from a 6-0 deficit to make it 10-9. The Lady Raiders extended their lead to 20-14 before Lambert (2-4, 1-2) stormed back to take a 29-23 halftime lead. Leading 39-31 after three quarters, the Lady Longhorns finally went up by ten, 43-33, with just under six minutes in the final period.
Both coaches were visibly frustrated after the game with a high volume of fouls. Lambert's usual leading scorer, Molly Williams, finished with eight points before fouling out. Bella Caracciolo and Simpson fouled out for North. Forty-two fouls were called in total during the game.
“That wasn't a basketball game, that was a rugby match,” Herrick said. “It was a growing up game. We have to realize that's going to happen. We've got to learn to play through tough, physical defense to get better.”
“It was very physical,” Fisher said. “We knew it was going to be physical, Eric does a great job preparing his team. We know North is going to be a scrappy, pressure, in your face team and we were ready for it. I felt like we did a good job of applying that same pressure to them.”
ME Craven led the Lady Longhorns with 10 points, while Leah Cote pitched in 9 points off the bench. Maddie Palmer was a shot-creating machine for North from the high post, dishing four assists and grabbing six rebounds along with three steals.