One figure stood out to Angela Hurt following Thursday's loss to Parkview.
It wasn't the score, the amount of missed rebounds, nor was it the amount of points scored by Sussy Ngulefac, Parkview's 6-foot-3 center.
Forsyth Central's season is over, but Hurt instead elected to focus on where the Bulldogs where when they ended their season.
“As far as the season, I think that we’ve got a lot to be proud of," Hurt said. "I told the girls just in there that, since 1985 there’s only been four teams to make it to the state tournament for Forsyth Central. Two of those are ours. We’ve got a lot to be proud of.”
Central fell to Parkview, 56-46, in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs, marking the second time in as many years the Bulldogs have fallen in the opening round.
“It’s obviously disappointing, because we went into the game feeling like that if we could control (Sussy Ngulefac), then we could win. And we didn’t do that. That’s it," Hurt said. "We knew we had to keep her off the boards and we had to keep her from scoring. We keep her half of 21 points, then we win.”
Ngulefac towered over even the Bulldogs' tallest players, grabbing nearly every 50-50 ball and scoring 11 of her 21 points in the final 13 minutes of the game.
Central (19-9), which had won nine of its past 12 games, stuck with its matchup zone on defense to contain Ngulefac, but Hurt lamented the amount of second-chance putbacks the Bulldogs allowed on defense.
“I think we got too concerned about the shooters," Hurt said. "So, whenever we got too concerned about their shooters, we ended up out of position on her when we had opportunities. When shots were taken and missed, then we had missed opportunities to box her out for the rebounds, where she got those putbacks. That’s what we really had to limit, was those putbacks.”
Central built a 30-25 lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter, but Parkview peeled off a 9-0 run and never surrendered the lead from there.
The Bulldogs briefly made it a two-possession game late in the fourth quarter when junior Aisha Dabo completed a three-point play with a made free throw, then after a turnover, junior Elizabeth Pruitt sank one of two free throws to cut it to a 50-46 Panthers lead. Pruitt got to the line after beating Ngulefac on a pure hustle play, sprinting past Parkview's prodigious post player to corral a loose rebound.
With less than a minute left in the game, Central had no choice but to foul Parkview junior Mayah Watson-Casimir, who sank both free throws to extend the lead.
Dabo got the ball off the inbound, but her shot was blocked and picked up by Parkview senior Jalyn Bell, who knocked down both of her free throws to put the game out of reach.
“There’s been so many good things that’s happened for us, and so many good things just individually for players, and so many good moments that we can look back at our season and say it was a great season," Hurt said. "Unfortunately, there’s only one team that ends the way they want it to. We just didn’t want it to end tonight.”