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Basketball: Hot-shooting Bulldogs knock off Wolverines for Domecoming win
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Forsyth Central fans celebrate a 60-52 home win over West Forsyth Friday on Domecoming night. (Photo by Nicholas Sullivan)

Every time West Forsyth appeared to be taking over its Region 6-7A matchup Friday at Forsyth Central, the Bulldogs seemed to have an answer.

Finally in the fourth quarter, Forsyth Central — which entered the night with a 1-13 record — gained control to down the defending region champion, 60-52, in a back-and-forth Domecoming victory.

“Our guys never gave up,” Bulldogs head coach Brandon Hutchins said. “We’re a young team. We’ve had a learning experience to start the season. We’ve been telling them all year that you’re a good basketball team. They never gave up, and they believed in themselves.

“They’re a good group to coach and be around.”

After opening the season with 11 straight defeats, Forsyth Central produced its first win against White Plains (Alabama) in the first round of the Hilton Sandestin Beach Blowout Dec. 27. Now, the Bulldogs are knocking off a Wolverines program that reached the Sweet 16 last year.

“I could see it coming; I’ve seen it coming for about the past month,” Hutchins said. “They’re just so young, and we’re starting to jell.

“Hats off to West. Coach [Fredrick] Hurt does a great job. They’re very well coached. I knew it was going to be tough. You could finally see it pay off.”

Both teams started off hot, scoring 16 points apiece in the first quarter. Offense wasn't as prevalent in the second period, but Forsyth Central (1-1 in region) ended the stanza on a 6-0 run to send the game to halftime knotted at 27-all.

West Forsyth (6-8, 1-1) took a six-point lead twice more in the third quarter and held a 43-39 edge entering the final period. Sam Maynard (23 total points) and Chase Damerell (14 points) split the Wolverines' 16 third-quarter points evenly among themselves.

“We’ve been working all year when someone throws a punch that you have to throw a punch back,” Hutchins said. “They didn’t cower. They took that punch and they fought.

“I can’t be more proud of our young men.”

While the fourth quarter looked set to produce a down-to-the-wire finish, the Bulldogs showed no fear in making big plays down the stretch to pull away.

The game turned on Camp Wyatt's highlight-reel play in which the sophomore went behind his back on his way to a fast-break layup. After West Forsyth took a timeout, Lucas Hertzler drilled a 3-pointer for the hosts.

Clinging to a 52-50 lead, Hertzler and Wyatt buried back-to-back triples to help put the game out of reach.

Overall, Forsyth Central sank a dozen shots from beyond the arc, including seven from Hertzler.

“We know he’s a good shooter,” Hutchins said of Hertzler, who scored a team-high 21 points. “When that sucker gets on fire, he’s got it. He’s worked his butt off to get there. We just started shooting with confidence.”

Hertzler and Aidan Nutty each connected twice from deep in the first quarter. Nutty, though, battled foul trouble the entire night.

In the end, Nutty still put together a successful night, finishing with 13 points and the title of Domecoming King.

With Nutty having to sit out a large portion of the third quarter with four fouls, Wyatt and Caleb Drummer stepped up. The former scored all eight of his points in the second half, while the latter — a freshman center — posted 10 of his 11 points over the final two periods.

“We didn’t throw anybody in there who hadn’t played good minutes all year,” Hutchins said. “It paid off. Nutty is our leader, and he went down with four (fouls). Guys just stepped up. Super proud of them.”

The Forsyth Central administration attempted to keep students from rushing the court after the game, and to be fair, they kept them off the floor long enough to get the West Forsyth team safely to its locker room.

But the win was too important, too thrilling and too cathartic for the Bulldog faithful to be kept at bay.

“What an atmosphere,” Hutchins said. “You’re not going to find a better high school atmosphere for a basketball game than you did tonight. I appreciate our fans and our community. That was a great basketball game to be a part of.”

That being said, Hutchins doesn't want the victory to serve as the singular highlight of his team's campaign.

“These guys aren’t done,” he said. “They had a rough start to the season, and we knew it would be a little turbulent.

“They’re hungry, and we’re starting to jell. We’ve got a chance to be a scary team.”