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Best games of 2016-17: Nos. 1-5
Best Games web graphic

Life moves on, as they say, and so by now it might be easy to forget all the incredible sports moments that transpired during the 2016-17 school year. 

We don’t want to forget, so here is the FCN sports staff’s annual exercise in picking the top 10 games of the school year, starting with Nos. 6 through 10.

First, a little bit on our inexact science used to construct this list. 

The two factors we considered most were drama and the stakes. Drama is somewhat nebulous, for it can be produced in many ways - dramatic plays, dramatic back-and-forth games, dramatic endings, etc. The stakes, of course, is more obvious: what hung in the balance in the midst of the drama? So the same dramatic ending in a regular season game wouldn't compare as well in, say, a state championship.

Lambert tennis reach state championship
Lambert's boys tennis defeated Norcross, 3-2, to advance to the Class 7A state championship Saturday. - photo by Micah Green

5. Lambert boys tennis holds off Norcross to reach state finals

Initially, it didn't look like the Longhorns would have much of a struggle to reach their first-ever state championship. Jack Metzger, Lambert's No. 2 singles player, the Longhorns' No. 2 doubles team cruised to wins. Lambert was a match win away from advancing.

But as Lambert’s No. 3 singles player, Garrett McVay, warmed up, the Longhorns' hopes started to waver.

Will Harper, Lambert's No. 1 singles player, fought hard, going into the tiebreaker in each set, but wound up falling in both. Just minutes after that, Lambert's No. 1 doubles pair fell. That group had gone to the third set and was two points away from winning the match, but Norcross surged back and won in a tiebreaker.

That left all the eyes and pressure on McVay. His teammates lined the fence and sat on the picnic tables behind the courts.

And McVay had to come back. He dropped the first set and fell behind in the second. But McVay won three straight games to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 set win. The junior kept rolling through the third set, winning 6-2 to clinch the match and send Lambert forward. 

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- photo by Micah Green

4. Lambert girls basketball defeats North Forsyth for region title

Lambert trailed 58-52 with less than two minutes left, seemingly unable to handle North guard Caroline Martin. The Longhorns had made just 6 of 19 free throws. Lambert, like North, was seemingly handcuffed with foul trouble.

But then the Longhorns summoned everything they had left. It started with a layup by Summer Edwards. 58-54. North’s Cassie Markle then fouled M.E. Craven, who made both free throws with 44.7 seconds left. 58-56. Craven went back to the free-throw line when she was fouled on a coast-to-coast drive and made both with 27.1 seconds left. 58-58.

With 6.5 seconds remaining, North inbounded the ball to Martin, but Craven corralled her, swiping the ball. Martin pressured Craven on the sideline but was called for a foul, putting Craven at the free throw with 4.5 seconds left.

And she made history, giving Lambert girls basketball its first region championship in program history.

North Forsyth's Jack Dalmolin
North Forsyth's Jack Dalmolin swims during the Class 6-7A state championship meet during the 2016-17 season. - photo by Micah Green

3. North Forsyth boys swimmers go from 10th to first for relay state title

The storyline going into the Class 6-7A GHSA State Swimming Championships on Saturday at Georgia Tech was the Lambert girls team’s chance at five consecutive state titles, a feat never accomplished in the state’s highest classification.

Instead, it turned out to be North Forsyth senior Jack Dalmolin’s dominance.

And part of that dominance was on display in the 200-freestyle relay as Hunter Galbraith, Skyler Kadetz, Daniel Brisuda and Dalmolin finished in 3:09.32 to edge Lambert for first.

The Raiders were 10th in the field early on in the race. But the group steadily gained ground, to where Dalmolin closed the gap on the final leg and passed the Longhorns to give North the individual state title.

The performance was part of three state titles for Dalmolin, who signed with Arizona State University, and helped the Raiders finish a program-best sixth in the team standings.

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Lambert's Alisa Burr holds the Class 7A girls soccer state championship trophy Saturday while hoisted by teammates. Burr scored the eventual game-winning goal. - photo by Micah Green

2. Lambert girls soccer defeats Grayson in overtime for state title

Two minutes and one second into the first period of extra time, Alisa Barr, the smallest player on the field, outran the defense, collected a free kick from M.E. Craven and slotted home the goal that would give Lambert a 2-1 win and the state championship, the first in program history.

It was an opportunity for Lambert to find revenge, as it was Grayson who beat the Longhorns, 5-0, in the Class 6A championship game two years ago. 

It became clear quickly that this year’s game wouldn’t resemble that one. Lambert struck first 21 minutes in thanks to Maddie Eddleman. The lead lasted until halftime, but not much longer: Less than a minute into the second half, Grayson forward Brittany Montgomery scored.

It was a shock for Lambert, a team that hadn’t allowed a goal since early April. And it raised the possibility of a penalty kick shoots, a situation in which Lambert had found success this season.

But Barr’s goal, off a long free kick from Craven that fell to a pack of Lambert players on the left side of the box, put that possibility far away. 

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Members of the Lambert girls golf team celebrate after winning the Class 7A state title on May 23 at the Chateau Elan Woodlands Course in Braselton, Ga. - photo by Ian Frazer

1. Lambert girls golf defeats Mill Creek on playoff hole for fifth state title

As the Lambert girls golf team stepped up to the first tee box for the second time of the day, golden late-afternoon sunlight illuminated the fairway at Chateau Elan's Woodlands Course. It was a bizarre conclusion to two days of golf marked by persistent rain, which forced a delay on the first day of action.

That was part of what made this year's Class 7A state golf tournament so taxing and memorable for Lambert. Then there was the reason the Longhorns were repeating the par-5 first hole: After 36 holes of golf, they were tied with Mill Creek at 472 strokes apiece. If Lambert were to win a fifth straight team title, it would be the tightest one yet.

It took one playoff hole for Lambert to seal the team championship.

Lambert had four pars. Mill Creek had two pars, a bogey and a double bogey. When Christine McDonnell holed her final putt, the Longhorns rushed onto the green to celebrate.