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Basketball: Central girls can't keep up on the glass, fall to Archer in first round of playoffs
The Forsyth Central girls basketball team looks on after the end of its state playoff game against Archer on Feb. 15, 2019 at Forsyth Central High School. - photo by Ian Frazer

The Forsyth Central girls basketball team, despite what its massive progress over the past three seasons would suggest, is still a young team. The Bulldogs made regular use of just one senior this season, and perhaps their three most productive players were a freshman and two sophomores.

Those young players are talented, enough so to have helped the Bulldogs earn a No. 2 playoff seed and hang with an older, bigger Archer team on Friday night in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs.

When the Tigers would go up, like they did with an 18-11 lead after the first quarter and a 55-51 advantage late in the fourth, the Bulldogs responded. They led at halftime and after the third quarter, and they went to overtime tied 56-56.

But Central saw the downsides of youth soon afterwards. Archer had the final play of the night, inbounding with 11.1 seconds to play in overtime after Aisha Dabo was called for a travel. Arianna Silva put up a shot for the Tigers, which eventually fall to Maya Jackson, whose layup just before the buzzer was good. That sealed the final score at 63-61 and ended Central’s season at 17-12.

“Young teams, they’re not as disciplined, and I think that’s what it came down to,” Bulldogs coach Angela Hurt said. “Some of that youth – when you’re young, you start watching more. We were watching them take shots instead of reacting and boxing out.”

Forsyth Central's Ansley Carver tries to keep a hold on the ball during the Bulldogs' state playoff game against Archer on Feb. 15, 2019 at Forsyth Central High School. - photo by Ian Frazer
The Bulldogs’ ability to hit Archer back after falling behind was one positive sign of progress that Hurt saw on Friday, and another had to deal with Central’s ability to deal with the full-court press. That was what tormented them in the Region 5-7A championship game against North Forsyth, a 55-33 loss, and while the Tigers’ version of the strategy was slower and a zone-based variety, the Bulldogs showed the ability to break it and put together runs.

That was especially apparent in the second quarter, when they outscored Archer 18-6, keyed by 10 points from a sharpshooting Ansley Carver. The teams gave leads back and forth the rest of the way, and Central’s last advantage of more than a basket was with 4:38 left in the fourth quarter, when the Bulldogs were up 51-47 after a basket from Dabo.

“Whenever we got down … we did react well, and we came back and took the lead,” Hurt said. “So that part was a growth step for us.”

It was an overall “heartbreaking” result for the Bulldogs, as Hurt described it, partly because they did do so well for much of the game. They stuck to their plan of keeping Archer around the perimeter and stayed composed on offense late in the game, but couldn’t quite keep up on the glass.

“I feel like overall, we played well,” Hurt said. “But again, I feel like our Achilles’ heel of not rebounding well kind of killed us in the fourth quarter.”

Dabo led the Bulldogs with 25 points on the night, and Carver had 13.