There was no letdown, only a beatdown, when Lambert routed South Forsyth by a 79-49 final score in a Region 6-7A contest Tuesday at home.
During the team's first matchup of the season, the War Eagles edged out the Longhorns, who entered on the back of a win over Milton. This time around, following another victory against Milton, Lambert successfully evaded the trap game.
“Those games are extremely tough,” Longhorns head coach Clay Wages said. “I don’t care what the records are. Those games are tough. It’s rivalry game, coming off a big win. Last time, we didn’t handle it well.
“That shows we’re learning, we’re growing and we’re getting better. As the season goes, we’re playing our best basketball right now.”
Through the first quarter a half, it appeared as though history would repeat itself, with South Forsyth remaining within 11-9 at the end of the opening period. The War Eagles stayed in touching distance before an 11-4 burst at the end of the half gave the Longhorns a 32-22 halftime lead.
The run late in the second quarter seemed to completely change the game. During the stretch, James Tyre, Niko Wilson and Keenan Gagen each hit a 3-pointer in quick succession.
“If you let a team like that hang around, they will,” Wages said. “When you’ve got a chance to put them away, you do it.
“We have three seniors guards, and whenever you need a play, they seem to make it. Having these guys gives me all of the confidence in the world that we can run whatever play we need to run, and they will execute it to the best of their ability. They’re big-time players.”
Overall, each of the three reached double-digit points. Wilson paced the group with 20 points; Tyre added 15; and Gagen chipped in with a dozen.
Sophomore Cam Bland actually finished as the team's leading scorer, edging Wilson by a point for the honor.
“A lot of teams in our region don’t man us, because they know how good our four guards are,” Wages said. “We see a lot of zone, but against the last three teams that have ran zone against us, we’ve hit double-digit 3s. We worked on. The kids stepped up, and we shot them out of [the zone defense]. We did that again tonight.
“It’s not a one-off. They average double-figures on the year. … They can hurt you in a lot of different ways — in the paint or shooting the 3.”
Each of the four connected once from distance and scored at least five points in the third quarter, when Lambert extended its lead to 57-38.
In total, the Longhorns buried 13 treys. That included three each from Bland, Tyre and Wilson, as well as two from Gagen.
Jack Ryan and Jack Whipple both knocked down 3s in a fourth quarter that saw Lambert continue to excel on both ends regardless who was on the floor.
With the win, the Longhorns (16-7, 6-2) remained unbeaten on their home court. But more importantly, they swatted away a scrappy group of War Eagles (8-15, 3-5) — who were led by Jackson Spitzer's 11 points — to stay in contention for the No. 1 seed in the region tournament.
“We’re really good at home,” Wages said. “The energy was just unbelievable tonight. We talked about it in practice. I knew they were going to come out fired up. They had a great crowd. They have good players, good coaches.
“We had to match that. Last time, they kind of hit us in the mouth early. This time, we wanted to make sure we threw the first one and put them on their heels. We were able to do that and maintain it most of the game.”
East Forsyth 85, Johnson (Hall) 44
East Forsyth's Matthew Rouse starred in an 85-44 win over Johnson (Hall) Tuesday at home, and the senior made some history in the process.
A final line of 16 points, seven steals and four assists would be impressive in a vacuum. But given that Rouse eclipsed 1,000 points — becoming the first player in the program to do so — with the display only served to underscore the significance of the night, which included the Broncos snapping a two-game skid.
With the resounding win, East Forsyth (10-13, 5-4 North Subregion) completed the season sweep of Johnson.
Despite Rouse's stellar performance, Louie Koulouvaris actually finished as the Broncos' leading scorer, as the sophomore produced 18 points.
Milton 64, West Forsyth 46
West Forsyth dropped to 2-6 in Region 6-7A with only games remaining against the top two teams in the league after a 64-46 defeat Tuesday at Milton.
The Wolverines, last year's region champion, couldn't quite hang with the Eagles, who entered the season as favorites but currently sit third in the standings.
Next up for West Forsyth (8-15 overall) is a Feb. 3 home game versus first-place Denmark.