With the 6-foot-5 Evan Cole back from injury and coming off a 20-point game at North Forsyth on Tuesday, South Forsyth hoped it could hand Lambert its first region loss Friday night, but point guard Andrew Melms stole the little momentum the War Eagles could produce as the Longhorns rolled to a 74-49 victory.
Cole brought South fans to their feet early, with the score contested at 10-7 in favor of Lambert, when he put an emphatic block on Ross Morkem—one of the two bigs Cole, unlike those who replaced in a season-opening loss to the Longhorns, could take on the low block. Seconds later, Cole drew more crowd noise by taking a charge from Morkem. The home pandemonium didn't last long. Melms used a steal and fancy dish to Connor Mannion, who dunked it home, to extend the lead to 15-7.
Melms scored 10 points in the first quarter and 20 for the game, knocking down four 3-pointers as Lambert (15-2, 10-0 Region 6-AAAAAA) pulled away. South had its runs, mainly in part to the streaky shooting of Joe Brandon, who led the War Eagles with 18 points (four 3-pointers), but no other War Eagle starter hit more than one field goal for the rest of the game. Cole was held without a field goal in the first half.
“They made some nice runs,” Lambert head coach Scott Bracco said. “They made big shots. But, we responded with our own big shots. So I'm really proud of our guys for playing great defense, staying under control and doing their jobs.”
“We played really undisciplined,” South head coach Scott Givens said. “You have to give them credit. They beat us in every facet of the game. We didn't respond in the right way. And, when they shoot it well like they did tonight, it makes it even tougher to beat them.”
Mannion finished with 17 points, but the Longhorns spread production through their deep bench. Musa Thompson scored five points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer, to bring the Lambert starters to their feet while they were on the bench.
South girls 71, Lambert 31
It was a game early, but Sarah Myers recovered from a frustrating start from the field to add up 25 points as she helped the Lady War Eagles to big win over Lambert. Twenty-one of the recent McDonald's All-America nominee's points came in the first half. She hit her last six shots of the second quarter to extend the lead to 39-16 at the half.
“We fought early, but Sarah was great, took over, and we just couldn't recover,” Lambert coach Jaime Fisher said.
The game was more physical than the score, as 30 total fouls were called in the contest. South head coach Keith Gravitt sees his team's on-ball, gritty defense as the catalyst for his team's success.
“That's what we want to be,” Gravitt said. “We're not completely happy where our defense was tonight. They got in the paint a lot, but I think we have to establish our defense. What we are going to do and how hard we are going to work, it all starts on the defensive end for us. We talk about that daily at practice.”
Lambert got 9 points from M.E. Craven and Ashley Johnson in the loss.