The state playoffs aren’t for several more weeks, but nothing could have felt more like a precursor for the postseason than Friday’s matchup between region leaders Lambert and South Forsyth. The Lady Longhorns used grit to overcome South’s multi-facted offense and pull away for a dramatic 67-58 victory on the road.
M.E. Craven led with 10 points, while Katie Schwind, Jaleah Greene and Molly Williams scored nine to balance the attack for the Lady Longhorns. Emily Dreslinski led South in scoring with 16 points along with two rebounds, two blocks an assist and a steal.
Lambert, now 14-2 and the only undefeated team in league play with a 3-0 mark in Region 5-7A, looked like the less-polished team often in the contest. South showed off the ability to beat the press, drive and kick, and make shots from multiple spots on the floor. But Lambert kept attacking, hitting big shots down the stretch.
“We never folded. We buckled down,” Lambert head coach Jaime Fisher said. “This was a team win for us in a big time atmosphere. I told the team during one of our timeouts that this was what we play for.”
South led 32-29 at the half despite entering early foul trouble—namely, forward Zoe Maisel was constantly trading big plays with whistles and frustration. With Maisel, one of South’s emerging stars, on the bench Sara Idris stepped up, finishing with 12 points and five boards. Maisel still finished with a 13 points and six rebounds along with two assists.
By the time the second half got going the Lady War Eagles (12-7, 3-1) looked in postseason form on offense. Leading the charge was point guard Mari Jonassen, who scored eight points and dished five assists. But, it was Jonassen’s composure against the press that often made her look like the best player on the floor during the contest.
“That’s a testament to her work ethic,” South head coach Keith Gravitt said. “She was mentored for sure with Sarah Myers and K.K. Storms, but she’s really taking advantage of her time now and it’s because she works as hard as she possibly can.”
Lambert’s stars showed up late. Kara Kidwell, coming off the bench, hit two big 3-pointers in the final three minutes—she also had five assists. Greene, who struggled early in the game, used her hands to defend the rim and force turnovers late.
“We didn’t convert down the stretch,” Gravitt said. “I’m really proud of the way our girls played. I felt like we had opportunities we should have taken advantage of, but both teams played very hard.”
“It was a South-Lambert game,” Fisher said. “It’s like that every time.”
The contest was neck in neck the entire way through, with the tone set after an 18-17 score in the first quarter where Lambert lead. Katie Schwind looked on pace for a career game after scoring seven first quarter points.
Summer Edwards added eight points for Lambert, while Mandy Clarke scored eight and had three rebounds off the bench. South also got three assists and three boards from Olivia Poff, while Olivia Woodison added six points.