MILTON, Ga. — Before last Friday’s Region 5-AAAAAAA championship game between Lambert and North Forsyth, the margin of victory for Lambert in its two regular season victories had been a combined eight points, so it seemed natural to expect another tight contest. And in a championship game that saw nearly 50 fouls called throughout, it was only fitting that free throws would decide which team earned the championship trophy.
Lambert’s M.E. Craven went 5-6 on free throws in the final minute, including the game-winning free throw to seal the 59-58 win and region championship for the Lady Longhorns.
Lambert trailed 56-50 with just over two minutes remaining but would force turnovers on three straight possessions, eventually tying the game at 58-58 with under 10 ticks left.
With 6.5 seconds remaining, North Forsyth had an inbounds pass on its offensive side of the court, but the pass intended for North’s Caroline Martin, who scored 17 for the Lady Raiders and seemed unstoppable in the final minutes, was stolen by Craven. Martin would be called for a foul, sending Craven to the line with 4.5 seconds remaining.
Craven missed her first, but made the second to put Lambert up 59-58.
North threw a long inbounds pass to Maddie Palmer on the ensuing play, but Palmer’s contested shot fell short. Martin came up with the rebound but was directly under the backboard and was unable to get off a clear shot, allowing Lambert to capture the region title in thrilling fashion.
Summer Edwards led the Lady Longhorns in scoring with 16 points, followed by Leah Cote with 10. Caroline Martin scored 17 for North. Lady Raider junior Cassi Markle put up 15 points.
M.E. Craven was named the Region 5-AAAAAAA Player of the Year following the game. Lambert head coach Jamie Fisher was named Coach of the Year.
Lambert’s Craven, Jaleah Greene and Molly Williams were named to the All-Region team along with North’s Cassie and Caroline Martin.
With the win, Lambert secured the No. 1 seed in the region for the state tournament and will take on Central Gwinnett in the first round. North, the No. 2 seed, will face Parkview.
In the consolation game, South Forsyth beat West Forsyth, 51-33, to earn the third seed. South will take on Brookwood on the road, and West travels to take on Norcross in the first round of the state tournament.