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Basketball: North Forsyth girls edge Lambert in 3-point shootout
12092022 NORTH FORSYTH GBB
North Forsyth's Lindsey Pirkle looks to go up for a shot under pressure from Lambert's Zoe Zhuang in a non-region matchup Tuesday. (Photo by Nicholas Sullivan)

In a game that saw both teams knock down double-digit 3-pointers, North Forsyth center Lindsey Pirkle proved to be an X-factor during a 66-60 victory Tuesday at Lambert.

The 6-foot-1 junior recorded 17 points and 13 rebounds to lead all scorers. Pirkle made a trey of her own but thrived mostly off putbacks and a 6-for-8 showing at the foul line.

"You have to have confidence in your players to make the shots," Pirkle said, "but if they don’t, you always have to have their back and rebound.”

Typically, the seventh-ranked Raiders (4-2) would prefer to pass the ball inside to Pirkle more than they got to against a packed in Longhorns defense.

But North Forsyth head coach Brad Kudlas walked away impressed with the way his team shot the ball across the board, finishing with 11 made 3s, 11 made 2-pointers and 11 made free throws. Then again, he would have preferred limiting Lambert (6-3) to fewer than 10 made triples.

“They were giving us the outside shot a lot,” Kudlas said. “They were really packing it in. We tell the girls, ‘If you’ve got it, knock it down. Take that shot.’ It’s nice that we were hitting them, because they would hit a 3, then we would respond. …

“Their offense is tough to guard. They have shooters, and if you get too far out on their shooters, then they will kill you on the inside. We were going to make them knock down some shots, and man, they hit a lot.”

Despite no longer being a region matchup, due to the Raiders moving down to Class 6A, the teams certainly battled as if there was more on the line than just bragging rights. In that regard, it wound up being similar to North Forsyth's 60-51 defeat last week at South Forsyth — another former region rival.

“Very impressed,” Kudlas said. “The county rivalries, even though we aren’t in the region anymore, are still there. I know they wanted it bad. For us to come back from that tough loss at South and take care of business was huge.”

On Tuesday, six different Raiders combined to hit seven 3s in the opening half. However, the Longhorns held a slim 32-30 edge at the break — thanks in part to six treys of their own, including two each from Anna Rodriguez and Mackenzie Weyer.

Ironically, neither side hit a shot from beyond the arc in the third quarter.

Instead, North Forsyth showed an ability to play lockdown defense, holding Lambert to seven total points. Annarose Tyre made the only two buckets in the period for the Longhorns en route to a team-high 15 points.

“When we buckle down and play harder defense, we’re going to be a really good team,” Kudlas said. “We’re getting there. We’re working really hard on that.”

With the Raiders holding a 42-39 advantage entering the final stanza, both teams started to heat up again from outside.

Lambert's Briley Elder — who scored 12 points, all from beyond the arc — buried a triple to tie the game only to see Josie Cheatham and Meredith Franklin hit back-to-back 3s for the visitors.

Elder answered and later Weyer hit her third triple to pull the Longhorns within 50-48.

Erin Whalen and Franklin, though, connected from deep to give North Forsyth a healthy enough cushion to see out the win, as Lambert never got back within one possession after Whalen's clutch shot. Those two seniors each posted 10 points to join Pirkle in double-figures.

“We finished out really, really strong,” Pirkle said. “We celebrated hard for this one, because we knew how much this meant to each other.”