Longhorn country is in new territory—at least for now.
Bouncing back from a loss to Brookwood on Dec. 30, Lambert took the road Thursday and looked like an elite group, constantly jumping into passing lanes, earning easy buckets and sharing the ball in a dominant 63-38 win over rival West Forsyth.
The Lady Longhorns—now 13-2 and tied with rival South Forsyth at 2-0 in region play—aren’t built much differently than last season. They lost post Shayna Lawrence to graduation but arguably upgraded overall at the position with the return of Kara Kidwell (a North Georgia signee) and a healthy Jaleah Greene.
Greene was an enforcer on the low block, registering three steals in the first few minutes and finishing with 18 points to lead all scorers, four rebounds and four steals.
The tall, aggressive M.E. Craven showed off her developed game, snagging five of her seven rebounds in the first quarter alone to set the tone—she finished with 11 points as well. Molly Williams, often called upon in the past to be the team’s go-to scorer, tallied 11 points on open looks and point guard Summer Edwards added seven points and five assists.
The Lady Longhorns led just 14-10 at the end of the first quarter, despite stifling West on the defensive end, when Abby Quincy hit a buzzer-beater for the Lady Wolverines under the basket. Momentum felt like it swung, but instead of letting West back in the game the Lady Longhorns went on a 19-2 run in the second quarter to all but shut the game down. Turnovers—10 first half steals—made the difference.
“That’s one thing we have been preaching about, diving on the floor, getting rebounds, deflections, tips, steals. Those are the things that help you build a lead, and I feel like we did a good job of that early on in the game,” Lambert head coach Jaime Fisher said.
Both of Lambert’s wins in region to this point have been a litmus test. North Forsyth (11-3, 0-1) looked like the favorite of Region 5-7A early in the year, but the Lady Longhorns pulled out a 46-40 win. Then, Thursday night, a blowout victory over a 9-4 West team that has found a new groove with the talented duo of Quincy and sophomore Ella Madson.
“We are definitely getting used to being the team that has the target on its back,” Fisher said. “That’s new for us. We have not been that team before so that’s been an adjustment for us so far. We have been the underdog. The girls are buying into the fact that we feel like it’s our turn. We need to play the way we are capable, we have room to improve but overall we are definitely making steps in the right direction.”
Even so, Lambert—albeit early on—is tied at 2-0 in region with South, which appears to be coming into its own at just the right time. With post player Zoe Maisel breaking onto the scene as a go-to scorer (she scored 27 Thursday against Milton in a 60-32 win), the Lady War Eagles’ newfound depth keeps them at the baseline the program set over the last few seasons.
Even at West, where the Lady Wolverines suffered an unfamiliar blowout defeat in a region game, there’s still plenty of reason to be optimistic about this season.
“We’re just a very young and inexperienced team right now,” West head coach David May said. “We’ve only got two girls with significant varsity playing time, so we’re fitting in a lot of pieces, figuring out how to fit together, but the lack of experience overall, having young kids trying to figure out speed and pace and think at the same time, it’s just tough to do right now.”