Ironically, Forsyth Central’s offensive struggles Tuesday night comforted Andy Martin.
The Lady Bulldogs coach learned his team’s capable of scraping out a win even when it’s not producing points at an effective clip.
It took overtime, but Central did just enough defensively to edge Class AAA Chestatee 44-40 at the D.B. Carroll Complex.
“It was like one of those prize fights where both sides are just refusing to lose,” Martin said. “It can be a bonus looking back, having won a game like this in overtime. We hopefully can use it to our benefit.”
Point guard Keeley Chester made three free throws in the extra period but missed two with 5.6 seconds left. Morgan Shobe, hobbled by a recent injury, secured the rebound on Chester’s second miss and made one free throw of her own to finally put away the War Eagles.
“We finally pulled this through, even though we went to overtime,” Shobe said. “You can’t let go. You’ve got to keep your emotions high and playing as hard as you can.”
Chester scored 19 points. Central’s success offensively ended there.
Kayla Richards, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, didn’t score from the field until late and produced seven points. No other Central (7-2, 1-1 Region 7-AAAA) player scored more than six.
Things weren’t much better for Chestatee (4-2) on the offensive end. No one scored in double figures, though Savannah Long and Maegan Kenimer contributed nine apiece. Central’s half-court zone defense prevented Chestatee from finding open looks until regulation’s final moments.
Richards nailed a jumper from the top of the key to give Central a 36-31 lead with 1:25 left. Emily Crain answered with a long 3 from the right wing.
Chester made the front end of a one-and-one to extend the lead back to three, and Chestatee missed two shots on its next possession.
But the ball went out of bounds off Central, and Erin Clifford’s straight-on trey with three seconds left sent the game to overtime.
“When a team can shoot and knock down threes, I tell you, it doesn’t matter what kind of plan you’ve got and how hard you work on defense,” Martin said. “That’s the great equalizer, and they made big ones when they had to.”
Richards fought off three defenders to catch a lob pass and hit her second shot from the floor to start overtime. Central never trailed again.
Chestatee’s 1-3-1 zone held the Bulldogs to 13 field goals. Chester made four 3-pointers and went 5-for-9 from the foul stripe.
“We’re used to playing against man-to-man,” Chester said. “Their zone just gave us another way to do things. … It forces you to shoot more on the outside and keep things out of the middle, so we got to work on that more.”
Central hosts Chattahoochee Friday night. The Cougars advanced to last year’s AAAA semifinals.
Follow Phil Ervin on Twitter @PhilErvin_FCN