In a game where the two teams might have put more mileage on West Forsyth High School's hardwood than ever before, the Wolverines had to make it up the court one more time. West was leading Lambert 82-81 with 18 seconds to play in the game, and the Longhorns' Damon Stoudamire had just missed a free throw that would have tied it.
The Longhorns went into a press, set on either fouling or getting a steal, but the Wolverines broke through, and senior Terrance Taylor got the ball with nothing but the court and junior forward Mikhari Sibblis ahead of him. Taylor dished to Sibblis, who made a layup as Lambert guard Mitch Ganote fouled him.
And with Sibblis making the ensuing free throw, West sealed an 85-81 win on Tuesday night, beating Lambert for the second time in the region schedule and providing another piece of evidence that they're one of the top teams in Region 5-7A this year.
"We've got a lot of momentum, so we're not scared of anybody," said West senior wing Michael Zabetakis, who led the Wolverines with 20 points.
West might’ve just put this away. Mikhari Sibblis’ hoop+harm makes it 85-81, 6.9 seconds to play. pic.twitter.com/yqMfkRHOTg— Ian Frazer (@ianmcfrazer) January 24, 2018
Like West's first matchup with the Longhorns, an 80-77 road win on Jan. 5, the rematch was a brisk game, with both teams rushing up the floor after makes and misses alike. West doesn't typically employ the volume-shooting approach Lambert does, but they followed along with that early and had significant success with the approach. The Wolverines hit eight three-pointers in the first half, the Longhorns hit seven, and West led 45-43 heading into the break.
"It had to be a heck of a game for people in the stands," West head coach Fred Hurt said.
Both teams' shooting cooled off in the second half, and Lambert (15-5, 4-2 Region 5-7A) took the game's biggest lead since the first quarter when the Longhorns went up 70-64 with 4:20 to play in the game. Zabetakis began his fourth-quarter takeover shortly after that, though, scoring 10 points in a two-minute span to put West up 80-75 with 1:09 left in the game. The Wolverines would hold the lead the rest of the way.
Tuesday's was the next step in a run for the Wolverines that didn't look likely at the start of region play, when their record was sitting at 1-6 and they had just come off a loss to Milton. West (11-9, 4-1) has now won seven straight, though, and they trail only Milton in the region, having played one less game than the Eagles.
"We lost a lot of games early in the season," Hurt said. "We were in them all; we just had a hard time getting over the hump, learning how to win those games. Now we're winning some close games. It's paying off now."
Lambert girls 53, West 21
Lambert, which had the senior trio of Jaleah Greene, Summer Edwards and Sydney Chason back after each missed time due to illness, dashed out to a 21-0 lead in the first game of the night and beat West 53-21 to keep hold of second place in the region.
The Longhorns (12-8, 4-2 Region 5-7A) were led by Greene, who scored 15 points and Skyler Aledia, who scored 13. Haylee Dornan had nine points for the Wolverines (4-18, 2-5).