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Basketball: Forsyth Central teams swept by Chestatee
Forsyth Central's Hailey Berman fights for the ball alongside a Chestatee player during a non-region matchup Tuesday in Hall County. (Photo by Bill Murphy, FCN Regional Staff)

On paper, both Chestatee’s boys and girls basketball teams recorded comfortable wins in their non-region doubleheader with Forsyth Central on Tuesday night at the Lynn Cottrell Center.

However, they took much different paths to those victories.

The Lady War Eagles used stifling defense and sharpshooting from long range to make their win look as easy as the 64-19 final score suggest.

The boys, however, had to deal with a scrappy defensive effort from a young Bulldogs squad, but senior poise and double-doubles by Colton Wilbanks and Jarvis Weaver helped them pull away in the second half for a 64-52 victory.

The win by the Chestatee girls (8-3), ranked No. 9 in Class 4A by, was a complete team effort, with eight different players scoring, four of which finished in double figures, led by a game-high 13 points and five assists from Caroline Bull.

Meanwhile, the Lady War Eagles not only limited Forsyth Central (2-8) to just 19 total points and six field goals, they also forced the Bulldogs into 35 turnovers.

Still, head coach Sutton Shirley didn’t necessarily think his team had it quite as easy as it made matters appeared most of the night.

“Those (kind of) games are hard,” Shirley said. “But I thought our kids did right. They did the things that we preach, and we took care of the things that we could control. I thought all 11 (player who took the floor) did a good job of that.

“The balance was good for us, and that was kind of our focus. We wanted to take care of what we do — spread the ball out, spread it around a little and get everyone some touches. We do pride ourselves on defense, and I thought defensively no matter who was out there, whether we had some young kids out there or had our staters out there, they did what we preach every day in practice. That’s a good thing.”

The Lady War Eagles were aggressive from the start, drawing two quick fouls on Forsyth Central’s leading scorer Lily DeLuca, who averages 15 points per game, and sending her to the bench before the end of the first quarter.

Bull then led a 16-4 run over the final 5:56 of the opening frame to allow Chestatee to cruise the rest of the way.

Riley Black didn’t have her best night, but the Lady War Eagles junior still was solid, joining Bull in double figures with 11 points and adding five rebounds and three steals, while Sierra Yarbrough finished with 11 points and Addison Boyd chipped in 10 points.

The Chestatee boys (8-2), meanwhile, didn’t have it nearly as easy, even after jumping out to a quick 9-4 lead in the first 3:38 after the opening tip.

But Forsyth Central (0-11) proved to be a tenacious foe despite and made the War Eagles earn everything they got.

They were forced into 20 turnovers by the Bulldogs’ zone defense, and also struggled to just a 10-for-20 night from the free throw line.

“That’s the first time all year we’ve played against a zone the entire game,” Chestatee coach Tanner Plemmons said. “I know it was going to be a little bit of a struggle, just because we haven’t played against one. The ball movement wasn’t as great as it needed to be. We didn’t knock down some outside shots that we normally hit. … We didn’t get out in transition as much as we normally do. All that stuff started adding up, and (Forsyth Central was) scrappy.”

However, Chestatee made up for those numbers by attacking the rim whenever possible, which Wilbanks did particularly well on his way to his third 30-point outing of the season, with Hugh Pruitt (11 points) and Weaver (10 points) also reaching double figures. Joshua Bull also had a solid floor game with four rebounds, six assists and two steals to go with two points.

But the biggest advantage was on the boards, where the War Eagles outrebounded the Bulldogs 47-17, led by 16 from Wilbanks, 11 from Weaver and six off the bench from Henry Grimsley.

Still, Forsyth Central kept hanging around behind its spirited defensive effort, as well as 13 points from Aidan Nutty and 12 from Caleb Drummer.

And a 6-0 run over the final 1:13 of the first half, capped by Kalil Coburn’s steal and layup to beat the buzzer, sent the Bulldogs into intermission down just 30-28.

However, the War Eagles started the second half with a 15-4 run over the opening 4:57 of the third quarter, and while they were never able to build the lead any higher, Forsyth Central never got any closer than six the rest of the way.

“We’ve given ourselves a chance all season,” Bulldogs coach Brandon Hutchins said. “We’re young. We’ve got a freshman and a couple sophomores out there, … (but) they play hard. They battle. They fight night in and night out. I’m proud of their effort.

“(Chestatee is) senior loaded. Their two bigs are really good basketball players. They’re a good basketball team. Credit to them. We’ve just got to learn, and it’ll come with time, to get those box outs and secure the basketball. But we’re improving every night.”