For almost 30 minutes, the Lambert girls basketball team’s unblemished Region 5-7A record was in jeopardy.
Then Summer Edwards made sure it wasn’t.
The junior guard’s steal then assist on M.E. Craven’s go-ahead basketball with 35.8 seconds left led the No. 4-ranked Lady Longhorns to a 39-37 comeback victory at county and region rival North Forsyth on Friday.
Trailing 36-31 with 2:57 left in the game, Lambert (17-2, 5-0) chipped away. Eventually, the Lady Longhorns got to within 37-36 with :38.9 seconds left on two free throws from Molly Williams.
North promptly inbounded to standout freshman Caroline Martin, who looked to push up-court. But Edwards cut her off near the sideline just a few steps in, and in that moment – as Martin paused to survey the court ahead – Edwards saw an opportunity: she swiped the ball, then swiftly passed to a cutting Craven who made a short jump shot to put Lambert ahead.
Mandy Clarke added a free throw with 5.4 seconds left for Lambert, and North (14-5, 2-3) managed only a deep contested 3-pointer that fell well short as the buzzer sounded.
“I saw it, and I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to go for this, I’m going to take a chance,’” Edwards said.
“That was definitely the turning point,” Lambert head coach Jaime Fisher added.
Williams led the Lady Longhorns with 16 points, including nine in the pivotal fourth quarter. Craven added nine points to go along with five rebounds and three steals, while Edwards finished with three steals.
Lambert managed the win despite shooting 4-for-15 from the free-throw line in the first three quarters and standout forward Jaleah Greene missing much of the second and third quarters with foul trouble. The Lady Longhorns led 5-4 early in the game but trailed the rest of the game, falling behind by as much as eight points in the second quarter.
“We had to claw back the rest of the game,” Fisher said. “That was the thing we kept telling them: ‘Guys, don’t give up. Keep getting after it, keep getting after it.’ Finally got some steals, we were able to claw our way back in there and once we took the lead, we were not going to give it back.”
Martin led North with 12 points to go along with five rebound and four steals. Bella Caraciollo had six points, three steals and two blocks. Cassie Markle had just four points but grabbed nine rebounds and had four steals.
Amber Jones scored six points, all on two 3-pointers during a brief run in the fourth quarter that seemed to portend revenge for North after falling 46-40 to the Lady Longhorns earlier this season.
“Just one of those things where we’ve got young kids out there,” North head coach Eric Herrick said. “We kinda made some mistakes. I probably should’ve burned a timeout or two and helped them out, but hopefully we’ll grow from it.”
Lambert boys 79, North Forsyth 42
Jordan McIlwain had a game-high 22 points, and 11 Longhorns players scored in all Friday in a Region 5-7A victory at North.
Austin Deckard added 13 points for Lambert (17-3, 5-0), while Mitch Ganote added nine points with three steals.
The Longhorns led 29-8 after a first quarter in which they made six 3-pointers; Lambert finished with 12 from beyond the arc.
And after building a 65-37 lead by the end of the third quarter, the Longhorns’ starters rested in anticipation of the team’s game against Milton on Saturday.
Preston Wiggins led North (4-16, 0-5) with 17 points.