Vekondja Ogbogu is more than a defensive specialist.
The leader of North Forsyth’s defense, Ogbogu is typically content playing her role shutting down opposing players, scoring when she’s needed.
On Friday, however, she scored early and often.
Ogbogu led the Raiders on offense and defense, scoring a team-high 16 points while helping to hold the Wolverines to just 31 points in a 51-31 win.
“V killed it,” North Forsyth head coach Brad Kudlas said. “V’s our defensive kind of specialist and I told her, ‘You need to go out and get a couple buckets,’ and she does that and gets 16. That just speaks tremendously of her, because she’s guarding one of their best players, then she’s turning around and making shots and taking care of it offensively. That was just huge.
“You don’t understand how much of a leader she is on the defensive end for us, and how she talks and gets people in position. It’s almost her defense. She’s got it rolling.”
Not only was Ogbogu’s 16 points a game-high, it was also the most points she’s scored all season.
“Honestly, my whole career, I feel like,” Ogbogu said with a laugh.
Senior Caroline Martin added 14 points for the Raiders and junior Lily Bales had 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the first half.
Sophomore Calie Thrower led West with 13 points.
The win came five weeks after the Wolverines began Region 5-7A play with a 62-55 win over the Raiders.
“They were a lot better defensively, and we were a lot worse on the offensive end,” West Forsyth head coach David May said. “Most of that came from what they did to us defensively. I thought they were really good defensively. They were really physical and our girls did not match that intensity or that physicality.”
North (19-2, 5-1 Region 5-7A) set the tone early, scoring 19 points in the first quarter and disregarding any fear of shooting from behind the 3-point line.
Bales connected on the first two, then senior McCall Thomas drained a 3-pointer to make it 14-7.
Martin scored seven of her points in the first half, including two at the end of the second quarter, when she stole the ball, went coast to coast and finished with a layup to give the Raiders a 27-17 lead heading into halftime.
“The girls were motivated, with them beating us the last time,” Kudlas said. “They’ve been looking at this game for a long time.”
West (17-3, 5-1 Region 5-7A) managed just six points in the third quarter, with half coming on a Maggie Quincy 3-pointer.
Ogbogu hit on a 3-pointer of her own in the fourth quarter to put North up 41-26.
“It does feel good,” Ogbogu said of scoring 16 points. “I respect the West girls so much. Those are really good people coached by a really awesome guy. It feels good to score that much, but at the end of the day I’m just glad we won as a team. That’s the most important thing.”
The Raiders have now won 12 games in a row and 19 of their past 20 since a season-opening loss to Buford.
“I told them after our first loss to Buford, I said, ‘We’re going to start winning,’” Kudlas said. “It was a good wake-up call for us. I think the girls in the past couple years, they’ve been undefeated in the region, so it was a good wake-up call for us. (West Forsyth is) a great team. They play tough.”
North will travel to South Forsyth at 6 p.m. Tuesday, while West will play in the MLK Classic at Holy Innocents this weekend before hosting Forsyth Central at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
“They’re a very, very good basketball team,” May said. “They’ve won back-to-back region titles and been to back-to-back Final Fours for a reason. That’s because they’re really good. We didn’t match the intensity tonight; we didn’t match effort. They were physical and we weren’t. I thought that was the difference in the game.”