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Basketball: No. 2 Lambert girls hold off No. 4 North Forsyth
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Lambert senior Molly Williams, left, drives while defended by North Forsyth junior Cassie Markle this past Friday.

Lambert swept North Forsyth at home on Friday night to claim their first region wins of the season. The battle between the No. 2-ranked Lady Longhorns and No. 4 Lady Raiders ended in a thrilling 46-40 victory. The Lambert boys shot incredibly efficiently to rout the Raiders 75-32.

 Just a season ago, Lambert and North Forsyth were stuck looking up at two of the best girls basketball teams in the state. A year later, they found themselves ranked in the top 5 in Class 7A, according to MaxPreps.com, and battling for early control of the region.

The Lady Longhorns (9-0, 1-0) have been building for success over multiple years. They have seen their fair share of struggles in those years, but the mistakes turned into building blocks for head coach Jamie Fisher and the team that is now mainly comprised of juniors and seniors.

The Lady Raiders (9-2, 0-1) were ranked fourth in the state heading into Friday, but this did not come as a surprise. This season, the Raiders knew that had a chance to win the region, and it all started with Lambert.

The Lady Raiders started the game hot. They jumped out to a quick 10-7 lead in the first quarter, but Lambert’s defense began to cause turnover after turnover. Lambert relayed the turnovers into a 15-0 run that spanned from the end of the first quarter into the middle of the second quarter.

 “We played defense the way were supposed to play defense,” Fisher said, “and we did a good job of forcing them into some bad situations and some turnovers that resulted in some easy baskets for us.”

Trailing by 10 with four minutes left, the Lady Raiders were able to flip the turnovers in their direction. Lambert got sloppy with the ball and struggled on defense, allowing for free throw attempt after free throw attempt.

The Lady Raiders got within two points thanks to some big shots by Caroline Martin, but free throws down the stretch by M.E. Craven and Summer Edwards clinched the game for Lambert.

Edwards finished with 15 points and three assists, and Craven ended the night with four points and 10 rebounds.

The Lambert boys (8-2, 1-0) dominated from the first second to the last. The Longhorns started the game on tear from beyond the arc. Andrew Melms and Austin Deckard let the way with a combined 10 three-pointers in the first half.

Many of the open looks came from the success they had on defense. North (3-9, 0-1) had serious trouble breaking through Lambert’s press defense which resulted in open looks for the Longhorns.

“We just wanted to come out and play with energy and intensity and really focus on the defensive end tonight,” said Lambert head coach Scott Bracco. “I was really proud of the boys playing hard on the defensive end. We shot the ball extremely well tonight.”

Melms finished with 21 points and three assists, and Deckard scored 12 points and grabbed two rebounds.