Angela Hurt knew her team was in a difficult place.
The 33-point loss that Forsyth Central’s girls basketball team took at the hands of Region 5-7A leader North Forsyth on Friday was a demoralizing one. Nothing the Bulldogs tried that night seemed to work, and with two more region games left on the regular season schedule, Hurt knew she had to get her team back on track, and fast.
“We do the stuff we're supposed to do in practice, but when we got hit with the adversity, we didn't respond well,” Hurt said.
So basketball skill was not the main focus when the Bulldogs met on Monday. It was all about looking ahead and taking care of the mental aspect of the game.
“They’ve got little bouncy balls they walk around with, just a visual focus and picture of bouncing back and bouncing back quick,” Hurt said. “We probably spent more time yesterday talking about how our performance skills and our personal skills play into our process, and how that eventually leads to getting better results.”
And after Central’s 67-49 win against South Forsyth on Tuesday, it’s hard to argue with that mindset. The Bulldogs' first half, particularly their first quarter, set them up for the rest of the night, with four 3-pointers in the frame.
The win put Central ahead of South for Region 5-7A's third seed, improving its overall and region records to 15-7 and 5-3, respectively. South dropped to 16-7 and 4-4.
Aisha Dabo, who led Central with 25 points and 16 rebounds, began the Bulldogs’ effective early shooting with a three, and after Ansley Carver and Jillian Bretz added deep shots of their own, Dabo added another three to put South in a 25-9 hole at the end of the first quarter. Central continued to find plenty of open looks in the second, with Carver and Bretz knocking down three more shots from behind the arc.
Central, which led 41-22 at the halfway point, was active on the boards, too, with 24 rebounds in the first half and 40 for the game.
“We gave them a lot of easy looks off of offensive rebounds,” South girls coach Keith Gravitt said. “They hit four threes in the first quarter. That was the difference in the game. If you look at the next three quarters, there's a two-point difference in the rest of the game. I felt like our kids busted it from that point on. They weren't going to fold.”
South certainly didn’t give up – Ryane Williams led the War Eagles with 12 points, followed by Ashley Breindl’s nine, though she missed the entirety of the fourth quarter because of injury. Kayla Casey and Sharon Tolliver had eight each. South had a chance at five straight layups in the third, but just weren’t able to take advantage.
“We just couldn't get anything to go right there,” Gravitt said. “We put a lot of energy into that and that was tough.”
For Central, the win was certainly a confidence booster heading into their final regular-season game against Lambert on Friday, one that they hope can last into the region tournament.
“We feel like we have the basketball skill, and if we're more focused on (personal skills) versus just talking about the results, we'll get what we did tonight, especially in that first half,” Hurt said.