North Forsyth’s boys basketball’s lead in the third quarter Tuesday against Forsyth Central dwindled and dwindled – from 10 points to seven to five to two – and things suddenly felt uncomfortably familiar for the Raiders. Losses earlier in the season to county rivals South Forsyth and West Forsyth had followed this same formula.
This time, North survived.
The Raiders responded with a 9-2 run to close the third quarter and pull away for a 60-48 victory against the Bulldogs for the team’s first Region 5-7A win.
“That was good that we hung in there and finished a game,” North head coach Brian Moon said. “We could be sitting here with three region wins, but we just got one. But we’re going to celebrate tonight and get ready for South [Friday].”
Connor Stephenson led North (5-16, 1-5) with 17 points, with five 3-pointers. Preston Wiggins added 15 points, Jonathan Aiken scored eight points while Jonathan Pefanis rocketed passes through Central’s defense for 10 assists. Kellson Gravitt added six points and seven rebounds.
Wiggins got one of the night’s many back-door layups early in the third quarter to put North ahead 34-24 and prompt Central head coach Greg Dirst to call a timeout. It worked – Hunter McDonald hit a 3, then CJ Smith (25 points) made three of his four 3-pointers to cut North’s lead to 38-36. This was the kind of combustible moment North couldn’t handle in those losses to South (54-49) and West (52-47) earlier this season.
After trading baskets, the Raiders scored the next seven points to close the quarter with a 47-38 lead. Stephenson hit a deep 3-pointer to give North a 50-39 lead early in the fourth quarter. When Central (10-11, 2-4) closed with six points, Stephenson hit another 3 to boost the Raiders.
“We just came out really focused,” Stephenson said. “We wanted to play hard. Central’s our rival, and we’ve really prepared for them, so I think everybody was amped up. And Coach Moon prepared us well.”
North Forsyth girls 58, Forsyth Central 20
Freshman Ansley Allen led an impressive night for the Lady Raiders’ bench, scoring a game-high 15 points in a Region 5-7A victory Tuesday on the road.
Cassie Markle added 13 points with seven rebounds and three steals for North (15-5, 3-3), but the Lady Raiders got half their points from the bench from the likes of Allen, Vekondja Ogbogu (four points, three steals), McCall Thomas (four points, two steals), Sidney Bartlett (three points), Morgan Giordano (two points, three rebounds) and Kate Ware (one point).
But Allen stood out. She scored all 15 of her points from the second quarter on, driving to the basket to draw fouls (7-for-10 free-throw shooting). She added two 3-pointers, with three steals.
Sophie Kurtz led Central (1-18, 1-5) with 10 points.