ALPHARETTA — Sometimes your best just isn’t enough.
North Forsyth’s girls basketball team kept Alpharetta in a defensive struggle for three quarters, but couldn’t stop the No. 5-ranked Raiders from pulling away in the fourth quarter and defeating them in the region championship game for the second consecutive season.
No. 2 seed North held Kylee Smith without a field goal in the game, but the Vanderbilt signee scored six points at the free throw line in the fourth quarter as No. 1 seed Alpharetta pulled out a 35-27 victory and won the Region 6-AAAAAA championship.
The two teams entered the fourth quarter tied 23-23 before a handful of critical turnovers allowed Alpharetta (24-4) to gain separation.
"We turned it over a couple of times late and they got to the free-throw line a lot more than we did," North head coach Eric Herrick said. "[They had] a 23-7 free throw [attempt] advantage.
"We did absolutely everything we could to win that basketball game, holding them to 35 points [and] outrebounding them. What more can you ask for from a group of kids?"
Alpharetta defeated North 38-27 in the Region 6-AAAAA title game last year and is responsible for three of its five losses this season.
"[Alpharetta] isn’t just designed to give us trouble, they’re designed to give everybody trouble," Herrick said. "You’re looking at four Division I basketball players [on the roster], a couple of major Division I basketball players."
Lauren Brown led all scorers with 11 points and Smith finished with nine, while Lochlain Corliss led North (23-5) with nine.
Alpharetta held North scoreless for more than six minutes in the second quarter but struggled to build a lead. North fouled to deny transition layups and Alpharetta hit just three of six attempts at the free- throw line in the period.
North closed the half with six unanswered points and led 16-15 at halftime. North pulled ahead 22-16 early in the third quarter with the help of two baskets by Avery Scarbrough (8 points) off assists from Corliss and Caroline Bowns, but Alpharetta won the scoring battle 21-5 the rest of the way.
Alpharetta reclaimed the lead on a free throw by Smith with 5:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.
North turned the ball over on its next two possessions and Smith made the most of them. The senior guard assisted Brown on a transition layup following the first turnover, then got to the free throw line on the second and hit both attempts to push Alpharetta’s lead to 28-23 with 4:29 remaining.
North cut the gap to 28-25 on a pair of free throws by Corliss, but Brown answered with a jumper. North turned the ball over again on the next possession and Alpharetta ran the clock down to 1:40 before Vashnie Perry hit two free throws to extend the lead to 32-25.
"I’m not disappointed one bit in any kid on our basketball team," Herrick said. "They played their butts off and put themselves in a position to win and just came up a little short."