This is the team Forsyth Central girls basketball thought it had two and a half months ago. No more injuries. No more illnesses. For two games now, the final two of the regular season, the Lady Bulldogs have had all hands on deck and been hard to defeat.
In their regular season finale, Central got balanced scoring and contributions off the bench to cruise past Cambridge for a 63-36 victory Wednesday in a Region 7-AAAAA game at home.
The win improved the Lady Bulldogs to 9-16 overall and 5-9 in the region. They’ll begin the region tournament at Sequoyah on Saturday at 6 p.m. against Riverwood, a team Central defeated 48-37 on Jan. 17.
“We want to finish at our best,” Central coach Angela Hurt said. “We’ve put together two good games and played well again tonight. We’re right where we want to be.”
Indeed, combined with Tuesday’s 69-60 victory over Pope, the Lady Bulldogs eclipsed the 60-point mark in back-to-back games for just the second time this season. The last time was on Nov. 19 and Dec. 3, two games that were weeks apart because of school holidays.
That was also a time when Central’s assumed stability began to crumble. Returning seniors Kirsten Lindstrom and Ellie Webb suffered injuries and illness. Freshman point guard Caroline Hearn battled an injury on and off. Hurt was forced to play Central’s regular starters longer and rely on younger players to contribute significant minutes.
First Hearn made it back, then Lindstrom and finally Webb, who returned against Pope wearing a heavy cast around her arm. On Wednesday, they combined for 12 points, six steals and four assists, but their presence alone helped balance out Central’s lineup.
Julie Richards led the Lady Bulldogs with 18 points. Kayla Bennett had 16 points, including three straight 3-pointers to start the third quarter and give a 37-21 lead they didn’t relinguish. Lindstrom added 10 points off the bench.
“It felt really good out there,” Richards said. “We’re coming together as a team really well.”
Cambridge boys 69, Forsyth Central 61
The Bulldogs ended the regular season on a bad note with a Region 7-AAAAA loss at home.
Three players scored in double figures for Central, led by Eli Brown who had 17 points. Jeremiah Jones scored 16 points and Cale Jackson added 15 points.
But it wasn’t enough for Central, who cut a nine-point third-quarter deficit down to one, 45-44, early in the fourth quarter but couldn’t finish the comeback.
Cambridge always seemed to have an answer, whether it was a big shot from Emerson McClung, who scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half, or clutch free throws from Jordan Sloter, who also scored 21 points.
It left the Bulldogs at 8-16 overall and 2-12 in the region and forced to play in the early round of the Region 7-AAAAA tournament Saturday at Sequoyah.