South Forsyth had trouble finding its shot early, but seniors KK Storms and Sarah Myers paced the Lady War Eagles to a season-opening victory Thursday night, 60-43, on the road against rival Lambert.
Myers missed her first three shots out of the gate, while Storms hit just one of her first six shots and was off on her first two free throws, but once the rust of a new campaign was shaken off, South couldn't be stopped. Storms led the way with 18 points, finishing 7 of 9 from the charity stripe, and Myers added 15 on a modest 5-of-17 shooting performance.
In the end, it was the leadership of the dynamic duo that helped South (1-0, 1-0 Region 6-AAAAAA) have a positive first showing as defending region champions.
“You want leadership from your seniors. The main thing is they didn't panic early,” South head coach Keith Gravitt said. “Sometimes when you come out in the first game and get behind bad things can happen, but it's great to have seniors with experience and a winning attitude.”
The Longhorns kept pace for the first half, falling behind 31-27 at the break when Storms' buzzer-beating 3-pointer bounced up and back down into the net, but the Lady Longhorns fell flat-footed in the third quarter as South managed a 21-2 run to take a 52-29 lead into the fourth.
Senior Shayna Lawrence led Lambert with 10 points, while Molly Williams was 4 for 7 from the field to score 9, but 31 turnovers and a team shooting percentage of 50-percent from the free throw line doomed Lambert.
“We just panicked,” Lambert head coach Jaime Fisher said. “Turnovers, back to back, and they scored on them. They're a great team, they're defending region champs, and we just made some mistakes. We missed a lot of free throws, had a ton of turnovers. If we take care of the ball and make free throws it's a different game. I'm disappointed, not with the effort, but just the result.”
South sophomore Zoe Maisel scored the Lady War Eagles' only bench points, going 3 for 4 and knocking down both of her free throws. Emily Dreslinski scored 6 points for South before fouling out late, while Lambert's Leah Cote scored 8 points, including a 4-for-4 performance at the line.
Boys: Lambert 74, South 51
One day after committing to play basketball at the Naval Academy, senior Connor Mannion and teammate Ross Morkem traded highlights as the Longhorns outlasted South Forsyth in the season opener for both teams.
Lambert jumped out to a 9-1 lead that included a Morkem steal-and-slam that forced South coach Scott Givens to call a timeout. The Longhorns then were up 16-3, but the War Eagles spread the floor, relaxed against their talented counterparts, and showed signs of life of their own, using a flurry of precision shooting to cut the score to 23-18 at the end of the first. Lambert only lead by eight at halftime, but its overwhelming size and strength was too much for South's stamina in the second half.
When it was over, both Mannion and Morkem scored 24 points. Morkem was 10 of 13 from the field, while Mannion a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
South's first-half push came from the hot shooting touch of Tyler Elliot, who knocked down 7 of 13 shots, including three 3-pointers.
“South shot the ball very, very well, had a high percentage from the three-point line, but I was extremely proud of Ross and Connor,” Lambert head coach Scott Bracco said. “They took care of the boards on both ends of the court and played hard
“The main goal for us is to come out and play hard, because we know we're going to get everyone's best game. We have to understand to defend on every possession, and that's what we have to improve on.”
“We gave really good effort tonight,” South head coach Scott Givens said. “Lambert was a big test for us.”
Austin Deckard added 8 points, including two three pointers, for Lambert.