Maurice Dixon

@WriturRece |

NORCROSS (GA) – The Woodward Academy War Eagles didn’t get run out of the gym by Lambert but they couldn’t remain within a threatening distance either, resulting in a 71-64 season-opening setback to the Longhorns during the On The Radar Hoops Showcase at Norcross High on November 17.

Walker Kessler had 22 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks but Lambert countered with three players scoring in double figures (Luke Champion, Colin Granger and Braxton Beaty) and the ability to knock down more 3-pointers.

Champion, a 6-4 junior, set the tone in favor of Lambert early with 11 points in the first quarter, including three 3-pointers to help the Longhorns enter the second quarter ahead 24-20.

“They are just a strong team. You can tell they are experienced. They are big, fast and can make shots,” Woodward coach Anthony Thomas said. “If you can do that you can win ball games and they were able to execute all day long. Credit to them for being able to take care of business.”

The War Eagles wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the way since Lambert’s offense continued to surge and never really hit any true dry spells.

“I don’t think we played as well as we could play and that is the bottom line,” Thomas said. “When you come out to events like this you got to be able to play your best, play as hard as you can and win all of the loose balls but we just didn’t do it. We did it in spurts.

In the second half, Kessler displayed his versatility on the offensive end by using mid-range stepbacks, one-legged fadeaways like Dirk Nowitzki, pull-up 3’s and strong finishes in the paint.

Logan Stephens also reached double figures with 10 points and Will Demorest added nine. Kevin Powell pulled down 10 rebounds and Michael Whitmore handed out seven assists.

Whitmore’s counterpart Mitch Ganote helped make the battle at point guard worth seeing. Even though Whitmore scored a few more points, Ganote, who doesn’t waste time dribbling, had nine assists and six steals.

Tough to stop in one-on-one, isolation plays, Beaty scored 15 points which was two less than Granger’s output. Champion netted a team-high 22 points.