Forsyth Central’s boys stayed within reach of Sprayberry all night long with the help of a dozen 3-pointers.
But when the Bulldogs were unable to knock down a 13th shot from beyond the arc, the Yellow Jackets were let off the hook.
Central missed two potential game-tying 3’s and committed a costly turnover in the closing seconds, allowing Sprayberry to tack on a free throw and hold on for a 61-57 victory on Friday at the D.B. Carroll Complex.
Central (1-5, 1-2 Region 7A-AAAAA) trailed by 11 points or more at least once in each period. The Bulldogs rallied each time and kept the gap at three points or less throughout most of the fourth quarter, but were never able get over the hump and tie the score or take the lead after the opening minutes of the game.
"Our guys played hard," Central head coach Greg Dirst said. "They tried to win the game, which I appreciate, we just came up short. Sprayberry played better than us."
Ryder Bowline (team-high 25 points) and T.J. Custer (22) combined for all but 10 of the Bulldogs points, while Sprayberry’s Armel Potter led all scorers with 30. Potter also had a strong night from behind the arc, as he hit six of his team’s eight 3-pointers.
"He’s just a great player," Dirst said. "He beat us."
Potter knocked down four 3-pointers in the opening quarter to lead a 12-0 run that put the Yellow Jackets on top 18-7 late in the period.
Sprayberry (6-2, 3-0) built a 25-12 lead in the second quarter and held Central without a point in the period until the 3:08 mark.
After being shut out in the first quarter, Custer knocked down two 3-pointers, and Bowline added one of his own to let Central close the first half on a 9-0 run that narrowed the score to 25-21.
Sprayberry cushioned the lead back to 46-35 late in the third quarter and still led by 11 points, 51-40, just over a minute into the fourth quarter before Bowline took over.
The senior forward knocked down a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to single digits, then came up with a steal and a 3-pointer to narrow the gap to six points.
Jeremiah Jones added a 3-pointer for Central at the 5:15 mark to cut the score to 51-48, but the junior forward picked up his fifth foul with 3:30 remaining in the game.
The Bulldogs had multiple opportunities to tie the game in the final three minutes but could not take advantage of any of them.
Nursing a two-point lead, Sprayberry ran the clock down to 26.6 seconds before Central fouled. Blaik Smith missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity and Central grabbed the rebound, but Custer missed two 3-point attempts and Sprayberry rebounded the second before drawing a foul.
Dayvion Rogers hit one of two attempts at the free-throw line to boost Sprayberry’s lead back to three with 8.4 seconds remaining.
A.J. Zlatic then tried to find Custer in the corner for another 3-point attempt, but the ball sailed too far in front of him and out of bounds.
Potter was fouled after the ensuing inbound pass and hit his second free throw attempt to seal the victory.
"We were out of timeouts, so we couldn’t set anything up," Dirst said. "[Zlatic] actually made a good play, he just threw it out of bounds, just got going a little too fast."
Central was scheduled to face Chestatee on the road Saturday (results not available). The Bulldogs travel to Northview on Tuesday and Sequoyah on Friday before returning home to host South Forsyth at 6 p.m. on Dec. 17.