It’s one of those heroic moments every basketball player dreams about: the buzzer-beating shot.
And Forest City junior Micah Lambert had it.
Freshman Noah Miller had the ball at the short corner, surrounded by the towering bodies of Garner-Hayfield-Ventura players. He looked back and chucked the ball like a bullet at Lambert out in the open wing. Lambert set his feet, throwing up a 3-point shot. The ball spun backwards and high into the air, almost pausing for a moment, as it dropped through the net with ease for a 42-40 victory.
“I told the kids that somebody’s going to make a play with our five starters back,” Forest City head coach Dan Rosacker said. “Ironically, it’s our freshman who drives and kicks it to a junior for the game-winner, says a lot about these kids. They’re not afraid to take that big shot when it’s time.”
Lambert couldn’t escape the fan-base. When the cheerleaders saw him down the hall, they shrieked with excitement. The Forest City girls’ team, also celebrating a victory, swarmed him with hugs, capping off what was a perfect night on the road in Garner.
“I just went in, running down the court, not knowing who was going to get the ball like anyone else,” Lambert said. “Just having the confidence that when it went into my hands I’d be able to knock the shot down. You just got to try to remember to go back to your basics.”
The characteristics of this matchup weren’t new, though. Forest City and GHV know each other almost too well, so not very many shots are taken, and when they are, there’s a strategy to it.
“They’ll run a lot of zone-press and it slows the game down, both teams are a little methodical offensively against these zone defenses,” GHV head coach Joe Albertson said. “So not a lot of shots go up, but then again I think the defense on both sides is solid and you’re forced into tough shots and forced into turnovers.”
The two teams didn’t even reach double digits until the second quarter. It was tied 8-8 at the end of the first, then Forest City held a 19-17 advantage at halftime after a pair of 3s by Miller. Senior Ryan Meyers tossed in a layup at the end of the third for a 28-27 GHV advantage.
The shots started to find their way in the fourth as senior Ryan Theel led the Indians’ offense with two 3-pointers, racking up three total for the night.
GHV senior Nick Joynt charged his way with back-to-back layups, the second off a breakaway steal. Joynt would be the highest scoring player of both teams with 17 points. Forest City’s Theel also hit double digits with 11.
GHV had just come back with just under a minute left behind Joynt, who made his first of his 1-on-1 free-throws to give GHV the 40-39 advantage when Forest City would drive down-court for the game-winning basket.
“It’s Garner and Forest City, I mean that’s just the way this game always is,” Rosacker said.