Staff Photo: John Bohn
Lanier's Andre Irvin (14) rebounds the ball while defended by Lambert's Logan Bush (11) during the first period of the boys final game at the Lanier Holiday Tournament played on Saturday.
SUGAR HILL — After falling to Lambert in the finals of the Lanier Holiday Tournament a year ago, Lanier’s boys had a chance at revenge on Saturday night.
Squaring off against Lambert for the second straight year in the tournament title game, Lanier once again came up just short as Lambert carried an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter and held off a late Lanier surge to take the tournament title 61-50.
“I thought we didn’t defend very well,” Lanier head coach Jeremy Huckaby said. “It wasn’t our typical night defensively. Lambert has several guys that can handle the ball and they did a great job of executing. Lambert forced us into some tough situations and we didn’t rotate very well.”
It was anybody’s game at the half as Lambert (8-4) led by just a bucket at 25-23. Lanier would cut that to 25-24 in the early seconds of the third quarter, but Lambert (also nicknamed Longhorns) put together a 9-0 run that eventually proved to be enough cushion.
That stretch was ignited by guard Matt Melms, who had two keys assists to Trevor Shipes and Danny Edgeworth as Lambert extended its lead to 36-24.
Lanier (8-6) finally broke that run with a basket by J.C. Williams with 4:30 left in the period, but couldn’t get much closer as Lambert led 46-38 by the end of the third.
That lead quickly went to a dozen in the opening minute of the fourth when Logan Bush scored Lambert’s next four points.
Bush led Lambert with 20 points and was named tournament MVP.
Down 50-38 with 6:47 left, Lanier quickly cut it to five when Jordan Harper (11 points, five assists) hit a 3-pointer and Peyton Smith and Simon Shafack each recorded steals and layups to get the crowd and Lanier back in the game at 50-45.
Lanier went back up by seven with two points on free throws, but another trey from Jordan Davis brought Lanier within four at 52-48 with 3:57 left.
Lanier would get that close one more time at 54-50 with 2:40 left on a bucket from Harper, but those would be the final points Lanier would get as Lambert rode out the final 160 seconds with six points from the free throw line.
“To our credit, we got down and fought back,” Huckaby said. “We think this is a team that can really do something in the second half. We just didn’t execute enough down the stretch tonight.”
Smith finished with 10 points and three assists for Lanier, while Shafack added 12 points and took three charges.
Lambert also had a good night shooting from the floor, hitting 23 of 34 shots for 68 percent.