North Forsyth has spent the first half of its season working to replace the production of a heralded senior class that departed last year. The 10th-ranked Raiders have found different players to rely on in different areas over the past couple of months.
Recently, London Weaver has emerged as a force in the scoring column, and given the opportunity for an expanded role Tuesday, the sophomore shined in a 66-34 rout of Shiloh in Region 8-6A action at Raider Arena.
One of North Forsyth's three seniors, Erin Whalen sat out the game due to injury. Whalen's absence — which should be limited to one game, per head coach Brad Kudlas — opened the door for Weaver to become a greater offensive focal point.
A 5-foot-11 guard, Weaver is an obvious mismatch against virtually any opponent. Against Shiloh, the southpaw racked up 23 points, matching the Generals through three quarters, to help make up for Whalen being restricted to the bench.
“I thought even without her, we had good energy,” Weaver said. “We played well as a team, so our chemistry was still there.”
Weaver scored twice early on fast-break opportunities, as her length at the top of North Forsyth's defense gave Shiloh fits in the opening period.
By the end of the first quarter, Weaver had produced nine of the Raiders' 13 points. She added seven points in the second, as North Forsyth took a commanding 32-14 lead into halftime.
“We finished well on offense,” Weaver said. “We also played good team basketball. We shared it when we needed to, and we took it up when we needed to.”
After struggling a bit in the half-court setting during the first half, the Raiders (10-5, 3-0) started to find more openings in the third quarter.
Weaver opened the period with a 3-pointer. Gabbie Gliatta nailed a pair of shots from distance in the stanza, while Addison Peck also connected from long range.
“That was sometimes hard, but we just took our shots,” Weaver said of getting the half-court offense on track. “Sometimes, they out-rebounded us, and we have to work on rebounding against their size.”
Even when the shots weren't falling, North Forsyth maintained a strong defensive presence. Until midway through the third quarter, Shiloh hadn't managed to string together more than three successive points.
While Weaver took on the bulk of the scoring duties, the emerging star received plenty of assistance.
Gliatta and Kamryn Gardner each recorded 10 points. Lindsey Pirkle dropped home seven points, and Emma Rose — who took Whalen's spot in the starting lineup — scored all six of her points in the fourth quarter.
“You never know who is going to be out, like Erin was out tonight,” Weaver said. “Everyone can contribute in different ways, so that was great.”
That being said, Weaver emerged the big winner out of Tuesday's victory, having shown an ability to fill it up even without Whalen receiving a significant amount of defensive attention.
“We definitely need more leaders on the team,” Weaver said, “so I’m trying to take that opportunity.”
She's certainly already talking like a true leader.
“I think our goal should be not to assume that we’re better than anyone no matter what their record is or anything that we’ve heard,” Weaver said in discussing North Forsyth's early success in its new region. “We need to come in with a clear mind and just do what we do.”