By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
The North Forsyth girls basketball team generally did exactly what’s expected of a one-seeded team when they dispatched West Forsyth in the Region 5-7A semifinals by the lopsided score of 65-18 on Wednesday night.
Fresh off of a record-setting regular season finale that saw them score 96 points while simultaneously capping off a perfect regional record by an average of more than 20 points per game, the Raiders kicked off tournament play in exactly the same fashion.
Led in scoring by Catherine Shope with a game-high 18 points, North used a full-court press and a fast-paced offense to seize an 18-3 lead by the end of the first period. Although coaching a team now riding a 16-game winning streak, head coach Eric Herrick continued to lead his team from side court like one who was trailing late.
“We jumped on them early with our pressure, kind of what we thought we’d be able to do,” Herrick said. “We weren’t sharp early on, but we turned them over quite a bit and turned those into points.”
The Raiders’ aggressive defense prevented West from settling into any semblance of an offensive rhythm for the majority of the game, creating 12 turnovers in the first half alone and dominating in the rebounds column.
Offensively, Herrick’s squad used excellent ball movement, well-placed screens and a healthy mix of three-pointers to create numerous scoring opportunities. Outside of Shope’s 18 points, the Raiders spread the ball around effectively, getting eight points from Cassie Markle, nine from Ansley Allen, and six from both Caroline Martin and Kate Perryman.
North used the healthy lead to end the night early for several of its starters, playing backups the majority of the second half yet maintaining clear control of the game and showing no obvious decline in aggression for the remaining minutes.
“Even those last five kids off our bench, those kids practice hard and play hard,” Herrick said. “I’m not going to tell them to go out there during the game and not look to play basketball — not look to continue to do what we do. We want to keep sharp and build habits.”
Herrick and his Raiders now turn their attention to the tournament finals — a game that he and his players returning from the previous season are all too familiar with.
“We’ve talked about this game for about 363 days since our heartbreaking one last year,” Herrick said. “We’re just going to focus on playing great basketball and competing every possession. Our defense doesn’t take a night off. Whether we’re making shots or not, we’re going to come out and guard.”