Lambert boys 64, South Forsyth 50
Lambert 21 8 14 21_64
South Forsyth 8 10 16 16_50
Lambert—Hall 19; Mannion 11; Melms 9; Noble 6; Morkem 5; Lancaster 4; Morris 4; Bell 3; Kassa 2; McSwain 1.
South—Cole 18; Cotter 10; McCorkle 8; McClellan 6; Smith 2; Schmitz 2; Strall 2; Sewing 2.
Scott Bracco’s new-look Lambert team walked into a predictably hostile environment on Friday night at South Forsyth for a season- and Region 6-AAAAAA opener. The Longhorns didn’t flinch.
Lambert jumped out to a 13-point first-quarter lead, and the War Eagles would get no closer than eight the rest of the way, as the Longhorns cruised to a 64-50 win.
"We needed to come out and knock down shots early because this was a tough place to play tonight," Bracco said. "Our guys got excited to get a lead like that early in the game."
Junior guard Tanner Hall led the Longhorns (1-0, 1-0 Region 6-AAAAAA) charge with 19 points, mostly on transition layups and free throws, and Connor Mannion added 11. Nine different players scored for Lambert.
Evan Cole tallied 18 points for South (0-1, 0-1), while Chandler Cotter finished with 10.
The Longhorns are breaking in new starters at both forward spots in Mannion and Ross Morkem. Hall, Patrick Noble and center Trevon McSwain joined practice just last week after Lambert’s football team was eliminated in the first round of the state playoffs.
That was evidenced by a frenetic and at times sloppy contest, though perhaps Bracco, who runs an active pressure defensive system, prefers it that way.
"I was extremely proud of our effort on defense," Bracco said. "I’ve seen that for three years here and that’s what we hang our hat on … It’s going to take time to build the team chemistry we’re looking for."
Lambert looked as if it hadn’t missed a beat from last season’s Sweet 16 run early on Friday night. The Horns raced to a 14-4 lead and led 21-8 after eight minutes. South cut the Longhorns lead to nine at 23-14, but the War Eagles would get no closer as Andrew Melms (nine points) hit two straight layups to push the lead back to 13.
The Longhorns’ swarming defense prevented South from making any prolonged scoring runs. After South pulled within eight in the fourth quarter, Hall led an 8-0 Lambert run by himself with four free throws and two fast-break layups that put the War Eagles away.
"We got some great minutes out of our football kids tonight who are just getting back in to basketball shape," Bracco said.
The Longhorns leave Sunday morning for a Thanksgiving tournament in Mobile, Ala. They’ll take on St. Martin (Miss.), Daphne (Ala.) and Foley (Ala.) before returning home for a Dec. 2 date with North Forsyth. Bracco said those three games in Mobile come at a perfect time—his team can gel and get into game shape before region play begins in earnest.
South hosts the War Eagle Classic on Nov. 24, 25 and 29, with Cherokee, Mt. Vernon Presbyterian and Hillgrove on the slate.