There was an upside to the Forsyth Central boys basketball team's Region 5-7A tournament semifinal loss to Milton on Wednesday, as sound as that defeat was, and Bulldogs head coach Greg Dirst made sure to remind the Bulldogs of that after the game. After all, Central plays on no matter what happens in its next game, against Lambert on Friday at 5:30 for the No. 3 state playoff seed.
"I told them they've had a good region tournament, and what would make it a great region tournament is to play well on Friday and see if we can get the Horns," Dirst said.
But Wednesday's game was one against the region's top seed without a chance for the Bulldogs to practice in between, and the 83-54 final margin showed the distance.
Central's Giovanni Joseph, the buzzer-beating hero of the Bulldogs' epic Domecoming win over North, netted the game's first bucket on a bank shot 47 seconds in, but the next four came from the Eagles, who were overall faster, stronger and better on the boards than the Bulldogs.
After trailing 28-11 after the first quarter, Central briefly found success slowing the Eagles' roll by pressing, but after the Bulldogs made it 32-18 on Jackson Leak's putback basket, Milton went on a 17-2 run that extended into the third quarter.
"Kudos to Milton: They're a very good team," Dirst said. "But I'm disappointed in my coaching tonight."
The Bulldogs (7-20) have a mixed recent history against the Longhorns: The most recent matchup was an 87-61 blowout in Lambert's favor, but the first of the season, in Central's gym, was just a 64-63 loss for the Bulldogs.
"Any time you play a county game, it's always fun for our guys," Dirst said. "So we'll see."