Coach Greg Dirst was at a loss of words after Tuesday’s game, but the expression on his face said it all.
After trailing by one point in the third quarter, Forsyth Central’s boys took over and defeated Cambridge 59-50 at the D.B. Carroll Complex for its first win of the season.
"Awesome," Dirst said, shaking his head with a grin. "Just awesome. I don’t even know what to say. All I know is that we scored more points than they did."
The Bulldogs (1-4, 1-1 Region 7A-AAAAA) fell behind 27-26 with 5:10 left in the third quarter, but went on a 12-2 run to close out the quarter and took all of the momentum.
Central’s Ryder Bowline (17 points) connected on his third 3-pointer of the night with 4:29 left in regulation to boost the Bulldogs’ lead to 50-35 and forced Cambridge to call a timeout.
The Bulldogs were content to run the clock by passing it back and forth near half court, but Cambridge forced them into five turnovers and brought the score within eight points with 1:16 left.
Cambridge was forced to foul and sent Central to the free-throw line. Clint Fenton (7 points) went 4-for-6 from the line in the quarter, while Jeremiah Jones (13 points) was 3-for-6, but it was good enough for the Bulldogs to hold on.
Central’s T.J. Custer found his stroke and finished the contest with a game-high 22 points, while Brawley Thomas led Cambridge with 10. Custer was 10-for-21 from the field and tallied 10 points in the first quarter.
"I was generally feeling it, but it was a team effort," Custer said. "When we all make shots, it makes it a lot better.
"This win feels great because we’ve really been trying to pick ourselves up after the first few games getting loses. We just decided we had to win this one, no matter what. We knew that we had to come out with a lot more intensity and we knew that as long as we played hard, there would be no trouble."
The Bears (1-5, 0-2) hung with Central in the first half, trailing 16-14 to end the first quarter and 23-20 at the half. But, Cambridge only scored nine points in the third quarter, as Central extended its lead to 38-29 to close out the quarter.
"This was a team victory," Dirst said. "Everybody played well. … T.J. is a shooter, and shooters shoot. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t, but he’s gotten to be more of a scorer and not just running around the 3-point line. He can also attack the rim, so I’m proud of him.
"I’m just so happy for these guys. They’ve worked really hard in the off-season. … I’m just happy for them to start their mark."
The Bulldogs will host Sprayberry on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Forsyth Central (girls) 48, Cambridge 24
The Lady Bulldogs’ defense pestered Cambridge all night.
The Lady Bulldogs held Cambridge to 23 percent shooting from the field and forced 27 turnovers in a 48-24 Region 7A-AAAAA victory on Tuesday at the D.B. Carroll Complex.
"Defense is what we preach," Central head coach Andy Martin said. "Defense is what I believe really helps win games, and it was really good to see that effort in the first half.
"I thought the key was to pressure them. They’re young and their ball-handlers are very young. … I knew that we could pressure them from what I’d seen from them. I was proud of us doing that and holding them down there early."
Emma Kane led Central with 14 points, while Julie Richards (9) and Kayla Bennett (8) combined for 17 on the night.
Kane knocked down a jumper in the lane with four seconds left before halftime to give Central a comfortable 21-9 advantage after only leading by five points (11-6) to end the first quarter.
The Lady Bulldogs (3-2, 2-0) wasted no time in the third quarter, as they went on a 9-0 run in the first three minutes of the quarter and forced Cambridge to call a timeout before the quarter ended with Central ahead 37-15.
The Lady Bears (0-5, 0-2) came alive in the final quarter with three 3s from Robyn Gordon (11 points) and held Central scoreless for over five minutes while on a 9-0 run, but the deficit was too much to overcome.
"We kind of let off the gas, which is not too good," Kane said. "We just have to keep up our energy and keep it all throughout the game.
"We’ll work on it. We’re just trying to get better every game and working and improving as a team."
Martin was pleased with the win, but said his team must continue to improve.
"You can’t design a start better than 2-0 in the region," Martin said. "The level of competition is fixing to go up. We talk about getting better each day, and we got a little bit better tonight. Hopefully we’ll get better [on Wednesday] and Thursday in practice and be ready for that next level of competition."
Central will try to stay unbeaten in the region as Sprayberry comes to the D.B. Carroll Complex on Friday at 6 p.m.