MARIETTA — A season that started with so much promise for Forsyth Central's girls ended with a thud Friday, as the Lady Bulldogs fell to Pope 42-39 in the first round of the state Class AAAA state tournament.
Free throw shooting — a goblin that has haunted Central throughout the season — reared its head again, as the Lady Bulldogs (22-7) mustered just a 5-for-18 performance from the charity stripe, including eight straight misses in the fourth quarter.
"I've been saying all year ... that I was waiting on us to play our best game, and I think tonight that we may have shown up and played our worst game," said Central coach Andy Martin.
Central held a 36-30 lead with just over two minutes to play, but was outscored 12-3 in the closing minutes.
Keeley Chester had a team-high 13 points and Anna Blackburn added 10 points for the Lady Bulldogs.
Despite the sting of defeat being so fresh, Martin tried to point to bright spots from a season that saw Central advance to state for the second year in a row after what had been a 24-year drought for the program.
"We stepped into a good region and proved ourselves worthy of playing with top-flight teams, but we also proved tonight that we haven't yet arrived and it's really disappointing."
For complete coverage of the game, see the next edition of the Forsyth County News.