Even through the cement walls of Lambert high school, cheers of elation pierced through from the girls visiting locker room on Tuesday night.
North Forsyth girls basketball coach Eric Herrick, with a sigh of relief, stood just outside the door, where his team was celebrating a 56-50 win over Lambert that pushed the Lady Raiders to third place in the Region 6-AAAAAA standings.
Herrick's team managed to keep its grit—its identity—in a physical victory without its star player Haley Simpson, who went down at the end of last week with an injury. Even in a game full of frustration on both sides, including many questionable calls, the Lady Raiders earned their third-straight victory in a row.
“It was an extremely emotional week for us losing another starter,” Herrick said. “It's been emotional. I could not be more proud of our basketball team for the way they just rallied, and have all week. I've been more down than they have, but they've continued to fight.”
Morgan Grindle led the way for North (11-6, 7-4), scoring 23 points and knocking down all 12 of her free throws. Fresh off of two straight blocking fouls, leaving Grindle and her head coach visibly frustrated and in disbelief, she responded with two quick 3-pointers, but the Raiders led just 34-32 at the end of three quarters.
Bella Caracciolo might have had the play of the night, issuing a stiff shot block to prevent the Longhorns from getting a two-for-one posession after a turnover, keeping the score at 51-47 in favor of North. North knocked down its free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win.
“We have to do better defensively,” Lambert coach Jaime Fisher said. “We have to play disciplined basketball, which we did not do.”
Lambert's M.E. Craven led the way with 14 points and six rebounds, while Molly Williams added 11 points. Cassie Markle scored 12 points for North.
Lambert boys 79, North 41.
Connor Mannion scored 18 points and brought in seven boards, while sophomore Austin Deckard knocked down 6 of 7 shots from beyond the arc as the deep, healthy Longhorns squad won its fourth straight game and improved to 11-0 in Region 6-AAAAAA play.
It was business as usual for the collected mind of Lambert (16-2) head coach Scott Bracco, who has done his best to downplay his team's dominance in league play.
“I'm proud of the guys for competing,” Bracco said. “We played hard on both ends of the floor tonight. We've got a few areas we need to tighten up if we want to make a championship run, but overall a well played game.”
North (5-11, 4-7) hung in early, mainly thanks to the sharpshooting of point guard Chad Bureau (14 points), but faded into a 41-19 halftime deficit. The Raiders have now lost six-straight games.
“We're going to get better. We've got about eight games to get better, and we're going to do it,” North head coach Brian Moon said.