SUWANNEE — Johnson boys basketball coach Jeff Steele knew he could not overlook the first-year Lambert program on the schedule. That respect for a new opponent worked out for the Knights.
Johnson overcame a small halftime deficit to pull out an 83-74 road win against the first-year Longhorns on Tuesday in Suwanee.
“I knew they (the Longhorns) would play hard and we did not bring it,” said Steele after the win. “I am glad to get out of here with the win, don’t get me wrong. We didn’t have the energy we talked about in the last two days. We definitely had more to lose than they did.”
Lambert (5-10, 1-4 7B-AAA) could not stop Johnson’s (9-5, 5-1) offensive attack as three Knights finished in double-figures. Senior Tre Dudley scored a game-high 22 points and finished 6 of 10 from the free thrown line. Senior forward Grant Cagle added 19 points and senior guard Chris Henry made three 3-pointers on his way to 17 points.
Lambert led 35-32 at halftime before Johnson pulled away in the third quarter. Johnson trailed by as many as seven early in second half before building a 10-point lead with the help of a 15-2 run.
Johnson outscored Lambert 32-20 in the third for a 64-55 lead. The Knights took over using their athleticism to get offensive rebounds and get the free throw line.
“We played well offensively, not defensively,” Lambert coach Derrick Dewitt said. “We pride ourselves on playing defensive and tonight we weren’t our typical selves. We gave up a lot of dribble-penetration and second chance points and we know as a team that is not how we win ball games.”
The 74 points is a new school record for Lambert as four players finished in double-figures. Junior guard Keenan Valdez scored a team-high 20 while junior guard Taylor Moore followed with 19. Junior point guard Rollie Ronni added 15 and forward Spencer Haywood added 12.
The full-court press by Lambert in the fourth caused some frustration for Johnson but the Knights never relinquished the lead. Lambert pulled within four with 1:01 remaining after a jumper by Taylor Moore, but Johnson made key free throws in the final minute.
“I am little disappointed of our execution, even with a win, especially when they were pressing us,” said Steele. “We had composure issues, but on the bright side of things, we got it done.”
Johnson plays host to Gainesville at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Oakwood. Lambert visits West Hall at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Oakwood.
LAMBERT GIRLS 31, JOHNSON 20: The Lady Longhorns (8-7, 2-3 7B-AAA) took advantage of offensive struggles by Johnson (2-12, 0-5) to break a four game losing streak.
Lambert outscored Johnson (2-12, 0-6) 11-1 in the second quarter to build a 20-5 halftime lead. Johnson was never able to threaten the rest of the evening despite Lambert scoring just 11 points in the second half.
“I didn’t think we came mentally focused,” said Johnson coach Kory Bays. “We just can’t afford to have mental lapses like that.”
Lambert had eight different players score, including junior forward Heather Blastic who scored a team-high nine points, while Katy Roberts added eight.
Junior guard Caitlyn Sloan scored a game-high 17 points and senior Paige Vaughn knocked down the remaining three for the Lady Knights.