By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
It would neither be fair nor feasible to single out any one play that stood out from North Forsyth’s utterly dominant, 65-30 win over Forsyth Central in Friday night’s Region 5-7A championship.
There were three, however, that summed it up nicely.
Early in the fourth quarter, and with a 21-point lead, North senior McCall Thomas sank a long, looping beauty of a 3-pointer — her third of the night — and drew a foul in the process, tacking on a fourth point for good measure.
The heavy Raiders press that followed the majority of their 3-pointers throughout the evening created another Central turnover and yet another North three — this one from senior Caroline Martin.
Before many of the Bulldogs' five had even reached half-court, North senior Ansley Allen ambushed Central’s very first pass and promptly notched North’s ninth point within the span of about 10 seconds, firmly entrenching a colossal 30-point lead for the Raiders.
“It’s the girls working together and playing for each other,” North Forsyth head coach Brad Kudlas said, referring to the nearly Olympian pace his squad maintained throughout both the evening and the tournament in general. “It’s a sisterhood out there, and they don’t want to let each other down.”
The Raiders were a joy to watch in every phase of a game, in which they maintained firm control from start to finish.
Offensively, all five North players put hands on rubber for the bulk of the possessions — the exceptions being the quick transitions and the quick threes (and there were many of both).
Defensively, the Raiders were a brick wall with long arms, creating turnovers almost as quickly as Central could find the key — if they found it at all.
In transition, Kudlas’ squad was every bit as dangerous as they were with possession, bullying the Bulldogs up and down the court throughout the entirety of the game and transforming what seemed like half of Central’s possessions into fast-break scores.
There were stretches of the game that felt as if North simply decided that they would not allow their opponent to cross mid-court, with Central notching four 10-second-violations before the start of the fourth quarter.
“That’s one thing we’ve been working on all week,” Kudlas said. “We felt like they had the advantage at the half-court and the post, and that maybe they had a little more experience there, so we wanted to get pressure on their guards. We threw several different things at them. It’s all about getting that tempo going, and it helps us to get easier shots against a tough zone.”
Allen led the Raiders in scoring with 20 points on the evening, followed narrowly behind by Martin with 19 and sophomore Anna Gliatta notching 14 of her own.
For the Bulldogs, sophomore Jillian Bretz fought tooth-and-nail for her team-leading 13 points in a gritty, admirable showing by Central who clearly weren’t interested in making even a single play easy for their visiting opponents.
Ultimately, though, it was Kudlas’ Raiders who made their resounding claim over region 5-7A, adding an exclamation point to a one-loss season of region play, and stockpiling all the momentum they can carry forward to the state tournament.
“Like I told the girls earlier,” Kudlas said, “we’ve got banners up on the wall — we added the state playoff one, we added the region one, and now we want to add some new ones.”