Lambert's undefeated record was put to a sobering end Monday night, as McEachern used its athleticism to cause tons of steals and fastbreak points in an exclamatory 73-37 win in the first round of the Lake City Classic at Allatoona High School in Acworth.
The Longhorns (11-1, 7-0 Region 6-AAAAAA) struggled with shooting early and throughout the game, but misses in the first quarter led to a quick 15-2 deficit. Lambert was without its star, Navy commit Connor Mannion, during much of that stretch after he limped to the locker room after a collision. Ross Morkem, committed to North Georgia and the Longhorns' other top gun needed to run with the Indians, was easing his way back into play after missing two weeks with a concussion. The end result was a game that was never in question, but head coach Scott Bracco didn't make excuses.
“We were struggling to put the ball in the hole. (McEachern) played great defense. We had our opportunities but just didn't take advantage of them,” Bracco said. “We're looking to play the best teams in the state and hopefully that will prepare us for a state championship run. McEachern looked like one of the best teams in the state. We didn't give our best effort, but we will next time we see them in the state playoffs.”
The Indians (9-1, 3-0 Region 4-AAAAAA) were led by the first man off the bench, Bryce Smith. Smith entered the game early and rarely checked back out, logging 20 points and five rebounds. His teammates Isaac Martin and freshman Isaac Okoro chipped in with 11 points, a piece.
Mannion re-entered the game and finished with 16 points and six boards in the losing effort, including four 3-pointers. Tanner Hall was the only other Longhorn to score more than one field goal.
Lambert trailed 9-0 before scoring its first point on an aggressive layup from Harrison White, then fell behind as much as 23-6 and eventually 51-16 at halftime. A flurry of scoring from Andrew Melms, Hall and Mannion gave Lambert a 6-0 run late in the third quarter.
Despite the overwhelming defeat, Bracco is thankful his team will get a chance at redemption as soon as tomorrow when they face future region opponent Milton (9-3, 6-0 Region 5-AAAAAA) at 1 p.m. tomorrow.
“We just will stick to our goals. We're going to play hard and defend. McEachern played great tonight. We have to improve. We're here to compete with the best teams in the state and we'll rebound, we'll be back tomorrow,” Bracco said.