CANTON – The Forsyth Central girls lost in controversial fashion on Tuesday night, falling to Creekview 41-40 in the quarterfinals of the Region 7-AAAAA tournament.
After tying the score at 39-a piece with a foul shot and less than 10 seconds remaining, Creekview’s Allison Luly was at the line for her second free throw attempt. Luly missed the second and Central’s Abbey Fagan was fouled going after the loose ball with 4.9 seconds left.
Fagan made the first foul shot to give the Lady Bulldogs (12-15) a one-point lead. But after missing the second, she was called for a foul on what appeared to be an obvious jump ball with 2.1 seconds remaining. The Central bench could not believe it.
Creekview’s Ansley Henson stepped to the line and drilled both free throws then stole the ensuing inbound pass to give the Lady Grizzlies the win.
“We went out strong,” Central junior forward Julie Richards said. ”But in the end they made some calls that didn’t go our way.”
“We felt like we played as hard as we could,” Central head coach Angela Hurt said. “We felt like we did the things we needed to do to win and then whenever you have a questionable call made at the end to decide the game, that’s the part that’s really hard, when you feel like it’s not in your hands on whether you win or not.”
Central grabbed its first lead of the game at 26-25 to open the fourth quarter, but down the stretch it turned into a free throw shooting contest, and that’s what made the difference.
The Lady Bulldogs were 13-of-24 from the line, compared to 14-of-21 for Creekview.
“We kept fighting, playing tough defense and chipping away at the lead,” Hurt said. “Yes, we could’ve hit some more free throws, that’s the one thing that stands out, but for the most part I felt like we did about everything we could have.”
“It should’ve been our game,” Fagan said. “I thought we killed it, I wouldn’t change anything. We did all we could.”
Fagan gave a gutsy performance for Central, leading the way with 16 points. She’s battled leg and rib injuries for the last few weeks, and tonight’s contest was no different. She was all over the floor and did everything she could to will her team to victory.
“For her to push through the pain that she was having, I think she was outstanding,” Hurt said. “You don’t have a lot of players who would fight through that and do that for you.”
Caroline Hearn contributed with 13 points and three steals, while Richards added nine points with six rebounds.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, Central can hold their heads high with what they accomplished this year. With only three returning varsity players from a year ago, they exceeded what many people thought they would do.
“I think we surpassed what most people expected from us,” Hurt said. “Most people didn’t give us much of a chance coming into the season. If we finished sixth in our side of the region, nobody would’ve batted an eye about that, but we were in contention for first going into our last game, and finished tied for second. That was one of our girls’ goals coming into this season.”
“We played like a team,” Richards said. “We played together and I wouldn’t trade this group of girls for anything.”