If Forsyth Central’s boys basketball team is still learning how to win, Friday’s game against North Forsyth was a textbook lesson.
The Bulldogs and Raiders played about as close a game as two teams could possibly play, but by the end of the third, Central was looking at its biggest deficit of the night, down nine after a uncontested run by the Raiders to end the frame.
“We always have tough games with them,” Central senior Brandon Sherer said. “We're always just so competitive with them. If we have a bad season or they have a bad season, it's just always competitive with them.
The matchup’s competitive nature certainly didn’t end in the fourth. Behind four-straight 3-pointers from Jake Craft, Dylan Carter – who had two – and Joakeim Celestin, Central retook the lead, and after North tied the game to send it into overtime, Central dominated the extra period to take a 79-67 victory.
“That's something they're not used to, and that's something we've
talked about all year: fighting through adversity,” Central boys coach Brandon
Hutchins said. “When adversity hits, you can't quit. You've got to keep
fighting, and that's the Forsyth Central way we're trying to teach them.”
North’s Cory Seitz connected on two free throws with less than a minute left in regulation, and although Central got the ball back with seconds left, Craft’s potential game-winner was blocked right before the buzzer sounded.
But after overtime began, Central was in full control. Kaleb Scott, Celestin and Sherer combined for a 12-1 run to start the period, with Sherer connecting on seven of his eight free-throw attempts in that span.
“We just kind of stayed (with) a positive, next-play mentality and we just make up for it on defense,” Sherer said. “That's what we did. That first minute, we just got after it and we just finished it from there.”
North’s Cannon Jackson and Aidan Kudlas followed the Bulldogs’ run with a quick five points, but Sherer, Celestin and Craft continued to make their free throws to keep the game out of reach.
Both teams were evenly matched to start the game, though, with Cory Seitz and Justin Costello leading the Raiders on a short run to end the first half down 33-31. The duo continued their production in the third, but after leading 47-38 to start the fourth, North suffered a big blow when Costello fouled out.
“We turned it over and missed some easy baskets,” North head coach David Sokol said. “I think this one hurt them. They tried, there's no doubt. The effort was there. We just didn't finish very well.”
Central improved to 9-14 overall and 2-6 in region play with the win, while North fell to 6-17, 1-7.