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Basketball: Broncos can't close out Bears at home
East Forsyth's Hailey Hiddema passes the ball against Cherokee Bluff during a Region 8-4A matchup Tuesday at home. (Photo by Jay Rooney Photography)

In the Region 8-4A girls basketball matchup between East Forsyth and Cherokee Bluff on Tuesday, the Broncos missed out on a chance to close out the game, losing 50-45 at home.

East Forsyth started the ballgame with a 5-2 lead. Off a miss by Cherokee Bluff, Addison Rouse tried to go to the cup but got hit, resulting in a shooting foul that sent her to the line.

The Broncos forced the Bears into back-to-back turnovers, and Hailey Hiddema got the second for a steal. Bears freshman Claire Carlson, though, showed her paint protection, getting her third block of the game.

The Broncos (4-3, 1-1) were thriving off their defense. Off another turnover, Hiddema knocked down the triple in her opponent's face, and Cherokee Bluff (6-1, 2-0) called a timeout to discuss its offensive struggles.

It was the Bears who opened the second quarter with possession, but the offense continued to hand the ball over to East Forsyth, though the Bears didn’t let the Broncos finish the fast break by getting a stop of their own.

Cherokee Bluff's Mia Williams brushed off the offensive rust, cleaning up the board and getting a layup to go down to cut the lead to 11-10.

After a missed 3-pointer by the Bears, Nora Swafford drove into the paint but ran into a pack of Bears. Yet, she still was able to get the tough layup to go down. Shortly after, the Broncos defense came through by forcing a shot clock violation.

After a missed 3, Swafford finished the fast break to give the Broncos an 18-10 cushion.

The momentum shifted late in the second quarter.

East Forsyth turned the ball over twice in a row, and it resulted in Williams capitalizing at the rim. Then, Kaitlin Cook tied the game by driving up the middle.

In spite of the short time remaining, the Broncos were able to run a play. The play was executed well, leading to a wide-open 3-point try, but East Forsyth couldn’t cash in, entering halftime tied 18-18.

Coming out of halftime, East Forsyth shifted the focus to hitting shots from beyond the arc. It worked well for them — especially for Ella Holbrook, who opened the Broncos' first possession by firing from deep and retaking the lead at 21-20.

Following that, Hannah Kermicle passed to Holbrook for another triple. Although, the Bears wasted no time in responding, as Cook finished a layup in traffic.

Williams recorded a block and switched defense to offense. She scored by cleaning up another board and putting the ball up in the midst of getting fouled by a Bronco. By converting the and-1, Cherokee Bluff took a 27-24 lead.

But then came Holbrook with another triple, keeping her foot on the gas pedal.

Then Swafford went inside and forced the defense to collapse, leaving Hiddema open for the triple.

With 20.4 seconds left until the fourth quarter, East Forsyth had the ball but couldn’t knock down the triple.

On a fast break, Mackinley Warren got fouled. She went 1-for-2 to tie the ballgame, and once again, both teams went into another quarter tied — this time at 30-all.

Maddie Abercrombie opened the quarter with a 3-pointer from the wing, and then a great defensive effort by Rouse earns her a steal to set up Holbrook for her fourth 3 of the second half.

In the fourth quarter with 1:46 remaining, Carson DeMars capitalized on two turnovers by East to snag a 46-43 lead with back-to-back baskets.

The Broncos forced a turnover but gave the ball right back to the Bears, and as DeMars was going up to finish the layup, she was fouled, sending her to the line. She gave the Bears a 49-45 lead with 35 seconds left.

The Broncos tried to respond but airballed a shot from the corner. The Bears pushed the pace off the rebound, and DeMars got sent back to the line, where she once again sank the free throws.

 Down multiple possessions, time was not on the Broncos' side, as they saw the Bears' bench celebrate with excitement.