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Defense, second-half surge leads Lambert past Lanier in tournament finals

Photo: David McGregor  Lanier's Andre Irvin drives past Lambert defender Sean Monahan in during the first half of the Longhorns loss on Friday night.

Photo: David McGregor Lanier's Andre Irvin drives past Lambert defender Sean Monahan in during the first half of the Longhorns loss on Friday night.

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Photo: David McGregor Lanier's Jordan Davis passes the ball around Lambert defenderColin Perzella during the second half of his teams loss in the finals of the first annual Lanier Holiday Classic on Friday night.

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Photo: David McGregor Lanier's Zac Winzurk (5) gets his shot contested by Lambert's Logan Bush during the second half of the Longhorns loss in the finals of the Lanier Holiday Classic on Friday night.

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Photo: David McGregor Lanier guard MJ Bryant goes up for a layup past Lambert's Logan Bush during the first half of the Longhorns loss in the finals of Lanier Holiday Classic on Friday night.

SUGAR HILL -- Lanier and Lambert not only shared the Longhorns mascot in Friday night's boys championship of the inaugural Longhorn Holiday Classic, but also the same bull-like aggressiveness and effort.

But the visiting Longhorns had just a bit more charge to them as Danny Edgeworth and Jake Morris each had six points in a fourth-quarter surge that helped Lambert to a hard-earned 69-61 win and the tournament title.

Edgeworth (16 points) and Morris (14) joined Logan Bush (17) and Jake Alexander (13) in double-figure scoring as Lambert improved to 11-2 on the season.

But Lanier (6-7) didn't make it easy for the visitors from just over the border in Forsyth County, with the Longhorns getting 18 points from M.J. Bryant and 16 from Andre Irvin.

"I'm very pleased with the effort," Lanier coach Jeremy Huckaby said. "I thought we played very well, especially in the first half. ... We felt like if we could take care of (the basketball) and limit (Lambert) to one shot, we'd be all right. ... In the second half, their pressure got to us a little bit."

Lambert jumped out early by getting hot from the perimeter, with three of its five first-half 3-pointers in the first five minutes, which helped the Longhorns take their biggest lead of the half at 17-12.

But Lanier turned up its defense from that point and countered on offense with a combination of getting out in transition and using dribble penetration into the lane off halfcourt sets.

As a result, the Longhorns scored the final five points of the quarter in the final 1:48 on transition baskets from Irvin and Jordan Davis and a free throw by Irvin, plus two more free throws by J.C. Williams 10 seconds into the second quarter, to vault in front at 19-17.

Lanier continued to use the dribble drive to its advantage in the second quarter, with half of its 20 points coming off drives to the basket in the halfcourt offense -- including six off three drives from Bryant -- to build as much as a five-point lead at 34-29 with 1:23 left in the half.

Lambert countered with five quick points to tie the game, but Bryant's fallaway 3-pointer with two seconds left in the half sent Lanier into intermission with a 37-34 lead.

But as Huckaby alluded to in his postgame comments, Lambert began to extend its defense in the second half in both full- and half-court sets.

The result was nine second-half turnovers, and fewer opportunities for Bryant, who not only battled the tough Lambert defense, but also leg cramps, and was limited to just three points after halftime.

"I thought we got some pretty good looks in the second half," Huckaby said. "We just didn't make anything around the basket. Everything we made in the first half didn't fall in the second half. It certainly wasn't for a lack of effort. But our execution in the second half wasn't very crisp."

Still, Lanier weathered a 10-0 run that vaulted Lambert into the lead, and to back-to-back layups by Zac Winzurk to pull as close as one point before trailing just 50-47 heading into the fourth quarter.

However, Lambert further applied the defensive clamps, contesting every Lanier shot and forcing misses on several Longhorn chances inside the paint.

That's when Morris, Alexander and Edgeworth went to work, as the trio combined for the bulk of an 11-4 run that stretched the Lambert lead into double digits at 61-51 after Edgeworth's layup with 3:11 to play.

With Bryant hurting, Irvin stepped up and tried to keep Lanier within shouting distance, scoring 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of coast-to-coast layups that pulled the Longhorns as close as six points, the last at 67-61 with 52 seconds left.

But Morris stepped up and hit four key free throws in the final minute, and the Lambert defense kept the pressure on enough for the visiting Longhorns to run out the clock and take the championship trophy.

Lambert also got a strong effort from T.J. Russell (seven rebounds) and Matt Melms (eight assists), while Winzurk pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with nine points for Lanier and Austin Wood chipped in six points and 10 boards.

"I think this is a great learning experience," Huckaby said of his team's runner-up finish in hosting its first holiday tournament. "I think it shows us where we're at. We're not quite where we want to be, but we're going in the right direction."

Mountain View girls 64, Lanier 30

SUGAR HILL -- Bria Virgil scored 13 points as Mountain View rolled past host Lanier 64-30 Friday to take third place in the Longnorn Holiday Classic.

The Bears (9-2) also got 10 points each from Kelsey Hutchins and Iceis Walker. Hutchins represented Mountain View on the All-Tournament team.

Shelby Threlkeld led Lanier with eight points.