For most of the first quarter, it looked like Forsyth Central’s girls might be able to compete with Sprayberry in spite of their turnovers.
That changed as soon as the Yellow Jackets began converting those turnovers into transition baskets.
Sprayberry forced 24 Central turnovers in the first two quarters and reeled off a 25-2 run before halftime to hand the Lady Bulldogs a 69-21 loss on Friday at the D.B. Carroll Complex — their worst defeat since Jan. 23, 2007.
Central (3-3, 2-1 Region 7A-AAAAA) finished with 41 turnovers, while Sprayberry (4-1, 2-1) committed only eight.
"The biggest thing we’re battling right now is inexperience in pressure situations," Central head coach Andy Martin said. "Every one that we’re in, like this one tonight, makes us better.
"Whether you can see it from the stands or whether the girls recognize it right now after the game, I think every pressure situation we’re in makes us better for the future. That’s what we’ve got to hang our hat on right now, that we just get better from those situations.
Emma Kane led Central with 10 points, while Sprayberry’s Aysia Grimsley poured in 33 and Neeva Carter added 17 before they exited the game at the end of the third quarter. Grimsley demonstrated perfect consistency, as she tallied 11 points in each period she played.
"We knew coming in that [Grimsley] and [Carter] were their scorers; they were averaging like 24 [points per game] and 18 [respectively] and no one else on their team was averaging more than three," Martin said.
"[Sprayberry] had shot the ball 3 of 19 ... in one of their last games from the 3-point line and tonight they made 10. That’s another thing ... when they’re making 3’s, you’re fighting an uphill battle."
Central led 10-9 with less than two minutes remaining in the opening period before Grimsley put Sprayberry on top with the first of her six 3-pointers. Following a layup by Carter, Grimsley knocked down her second 3 at the first quarter buzzer to boost Sprayberry’s lead to 17-10.
The Yellow Jackets added nine more points that padded the lead to 26-10 before Central’s Julie Richards broke the 17-0 run with a basket which accounted for the Lady Bulldogs’ only points of the second quarter. Sprayberry scored the final eight points of the period and led 34-12 at halftime.
"Early on we handled the ball, we handled the press and slowed the game down a little bit and really had some good composure the whole first quarter, I thought," Martin said.
"It took a couple of turnovers on our part [for] them to get some easy baskets and get that momentum going. Against a good team, and they are a great team, that’s hard to stop."
The Yellow Jackets backed off their full court press in the third quarter but still forced 13 Central turnovers in the period, when they won the scoring battle 26-6.
Central was scheduled to face Chestatee on the road Saturday (results not available). The Lady Bulldogs travel to Northview on Tuesday and Sequoyah on Friday before returning home to host South Forsyth at 6 p.m. on Dec. 17.
"Kayla Bennett, I think that she’s stepping up right now and getting better each day at handling the ball as our point guard," Martin said. "Emma Kane is doing everything she can right now down low. We just need some others that will step up with them, offensively and defensively."