Staff Photo: John Bohn Lanier's Taylor Rose Gibson-Green (13) grabs a defensive rebound while covered closely by Strong Rock's Molly Gaynier (30) during overtime in the first-ever Longhorns Holiday Classic at Lanier on Wednesday.
SUGAR HILL -- When you're not at your best, energy and effort go a long way and that's exactly what happened for the Lanier girls as they defeated Strong Rock Christian in the opening round of the Lanier Holiday Tournament 40-37.
Down by three points with 27.6 seconds to go in overtime, the Longhorns got a rebound and putback by T.R. Gibson-Green to get them to within one point.
Then a steal by Tamar Osborne and subsequent two free throws after being fouled gave Lanier a 38-37 lead. If that wasn't enough icing on the cake, Osborne grabbed another steal and lay-up putting the game away for her team.
"I'll take the win," said Lanier head coach David Palmer. "Tamar's play was pure energy and effort. We executed poorly throughout the game and (Strong Rock) executed very well."
Lanier started the game on a 4-0 run before seeing the Patriots score the next nine points, eight of which came from Candler Gregory, who finished the game with 21 points.
Taking a 9-6 lead into the second quarter, Strong Rock was able to stretch its lead to 15-9. However, that wouldn't last for long as Lanier ended the quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 16-15 lead into halftime.
Strong Rock immediately took the lead back to start the third quarter on a jumper by Gregory as the teams went back-and-forth to begin the quarter.
The Patriots took a 25-23 lead into the fourth, but were unable to hold on as Lanier's defense forced Strong Rock players not named Candler to shoot the ball.
The Longhorns eventually tied the score at 27 on a lay-up by Osborne.
"Tamar really stepped up her scoring for us tonight," Palmer said. "One a night where (Gibson-Green) only got nine points, Tamar's points were huge."
Lanier got a 14-rebound effort by Gibson-Green, to go along with her nine points, while Aslee McElroy had seven points and 10 rebounds.
In the boys' game, Lanier led from start to finish, never allowing Strong Rock closer than eight points after the first quarter.
The Longhorns jumped out to a 16-6 lead after the first quarter, but both teams were sluggish throughout the second quarter.
"That second quarter was slow," said Longhorns' head coach Jeremy Huckaby. "But, our defense fought through it."
The third quarter started out slowly as well, but the Longhorns' offensive rebounding put some points on the board midway through the third quarter to get things going.
"We had the shots, they just didn't go through," Huckaby said.
Things did finally start falling for the Longhorns in the fourth quarter as they outscored Strong Rock 14-3. Next up, is Hapeville Charter in the semifinals.
"I think we have more size than them, so we just need to rebound and limit them to one-and-done," Huckaby said.
Lanier was led by Austin Westfall with 10 points and four steals, while M.J. Bryant had eight points and five steals. Austin Wood also grabbed eight rebounds.