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Lambert leads Williamsville North back to semis

The scouting report on Dylan Lambert says once he gets going, he’s pretty hard to stop.

The 6-foot-3 Williamsville North senior guard lived up to that hype and then some as the Spartans turned back a game Kenmore West crew, 64-50, on Friday to earn a spot in the Section VI Class AA boys basketball semifinals.

Lambert scored a game-high 25 points, grabbed six rebounds, had three assists and blocked a shot as No. 2 North advanced to Wednesday’s semifinal at 8:15 p.m. at Buffalo State, where it will face third-seeded Niagara Falls. The Wolverines advanced with a 58-51 win over Frontier.

“Dylan can shoot it, but he’s a little more than that,” North coach Chuck Swierski said. “He can put the ball on the floor, finish around the rim as well as anyone. He’s not afraid to take the big shot. … He’s pretty versatile.”

Lambert did do a little bit of everything, Friday but scoring is what fans notice most, and he lit it up during the stretch that enabled the Spartans to turn a deficit into an insurmountable lead.

He scored 21 of the Spartans’ 31 points, beginning the spurt with a three-pointer that gave North a 12-11 lead with 2 minutes, 44 seconds left in the first quarter and ending it with another trey that made it 40-24 with 5:36 left in the third quarter. He shot 4 of 7 from beyond the arc, drove and finished around the basket and also went 3 for 3 from the foul line. He shot 9 for 18 from the floor.

“I was feeling good, and my teammates were setting me up great on screens so that I could get good looks,” Lambert said. “I’ve had a couple games where I’ve had a couple spurts, but I don’t remember anything like this. I just felt good tonight.”

“Lambert was the best player on the court,” Blue Devils coach Mike Meetze said. ”We tried every defense on him and he didn’t miss.”

Point guard Sean Hill quietly had an efficient game for the Spartans (16-4), finishing with eight assists, seven points and five steals against a quick, scrappy Blue Devils (8-13) crew that struggled from the field.

Part of the reason for their tough shooting night was North’s length on defense. Four out of the Spartans’ five starters stand either 6-3 or 6-4. That’s tough to shoot around when you don’t have the size to counter that.

Swierski also moved Lambert from spots at the top of the zone to underneath to not only help with rebounding but to be another body clogging the lane so that Ken West’s leading scorer, Terrell Ford, didn’t have a clear path to the basket. Ford finished with 10 points, while teammate Trent White had 14.

“Our length, we just get in their heads, disrupting their passing,” Lambert said. “The other team starts second guessing itself.”

“We missed some easy shots and they made us pay,” Meetze said.

The price was a chance to appear at Buffalo State during championship week. North reached this round last season, beating Falls in the quarterfinals, but later lost to Clarence.

It’s a loss that’s still on the Spartans’ minds, even though they no longer have 2014 News Player of the Year Sterling Taplin. But this group may be just as good as last year’s for one simple reason.

“Other than Sterling, we were a young team and I think people forget that,” Swierski said. “This team has recovered well from losing the best player in the school’s history.”

Lambert is one of the reasons. So too is Hill, along with junior Maceo Jack, who finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.

“We’ve been talking about that” semifinal “game since last year,” Lambert said. “We’ve just kept growing as a team throughout the season. … Everyone’s picked up a new role. We just have to stick together as a team, rebound the ball and use our length on defense. I think we can disrupt any team we play.”