By Josh Holland
For the Forsyth County News
Sophomore Anna Gliatta came into overtime with just two points Wednesday, but stepped up offensively in the absence of seniors Caroline Martin and Ansley Allen, who had each fouled out.
Gliatta made a layup in the first overtime to force a second overtime period, where she scored six more points in quick succession.
The Raiders were able to hang on to the lead Gliatta gave them Wednesday and win 56-50 over North Cobb in double-overtime to book a spot in the Elite Eight.
North Forsyth will face the winner Thursday's Sweet 16 matchup between Grayson/Cherokee.
In the first quarter, North struggled offensively, with Allen having to provide nearly all the offensive input, scoring seven of North’s 10 points. The remaining three points came from McCall Thomas’ impressive half-court buzzer-beater at the end of the quarter.
The Raiders (27-2) were unable to carry the momentum into the second quarter, and their offensive struggles continued. Both teams struggled to create open shots, but North Cobb was able to edge ahead thanks to its offensive rebounding.
The Raiders fell behind 18-17 at the half and continued to struggle into the third quarter.
Both teams picked up fouls quickly throughout the game, which disrupted their offensive rhythm. North trailed 31-30 at the end of the third, but they stayed in contention despite foul trouble becoming an issue.
One minute into the fourth quarter, Allen and Martin had four fouls and failed to make it to the end of regulation before picking up their fifth. Both players fouled out on controversial offensive fouls.
After Martin tied the game with her and-one with 18 seconds left in regulation, both teams were stuck at 41 until the final minutes of overtime. It wasn’t until the final minute of the first overtime that Gliatta made the first layup, immediately followed by North Cobb’s Azonya Austin, who leveled the game at 43.
The second overtime started with six quick points from Gliatta. She made a layup on the opening possession immediately followed by a steal and transition layup. Next time down the court, she was fouled and hit both free throws to give her team a lead that proved to be insurmountable.
Thomas was clutch from the free-throw line during the second overtime period, as she chased down her own miss and earned a trip to the line after getting fouled on the rebound. A couple of minutes later, the North Cobb coach picked up a technical and Thomas knocked down both of those free throws as well to give the Raiders a five point lead.
North head coach Brad Kudlas praised Thomas' and Gliatta’s performances off the bench following the game.
“We’re a family. We’re a team and that’s why we were able to pull it out.” he said. “With three people fouled out, we were still able to pull it out. If you go look at our team, we got two players who average double figures. Everybody else averages somewhere in between because we’ve had eight different people lead us in scoring throughout the season.”
The thrilling game earned the Raiders a spot in the Elite Eight, which has been the goal of the team all season.
“I talked to the girls about putting years on the banner," Kudlas said. "We get to put another Elite Eight up there. Our goal is to try to get another Final Four banner up there. That’s what we’ve been working for all year. These girls don’t want the season to end, I don’t want it to end and now we’re ready for the next team up."