At the start of the fourth quarter of the North Forsyth girls basketball team’s first-round state playoff matchup with Mountain View, fans from both teams filled the Raiders’ gym with a dull roar.
It couldn’t eliminate the tension in the building, though, as North, a No. 1 seed in the playoffs, led the fourth-seeded Bears just 25-24 at that point. And the Raiders’ offensive slog didn’t break immediately, with freshman post Kate Perryman missing a point-blank layup less than a minute into the quarter.
But then North got a stop, and sophomore guard Caroline Martin hit a three-pointer from the left wing, and the Raiders embarked on one of the most dominant quarters in program history, culminating in a 51-25 win and a berth in the second round against Grayson on Wednesday.
“We didn’t want to jump on them early; we wanted to keep the crowd here,” Herrick said. “No, I’m just kidding.”
The margin between the Bears and Raiders was much closer than that of a typical 1-4 matchup. The two teams were close in athleticism, and Mountain View showed off an advantage in post presence. The Bears were aggressive on defense as well, forcing the Raiders into deliberate possessions that often ended in jump shots. For much of the game, those shots weren’t falling at the sufficient rate to give North a significant lead.
“We were able to run our offense,” Raiders senior guard Catherine Shope said. “We just weren’t able to put the ball in the basket.”
And the Raiders, known for their willingness and skill in the full-court press, largely kept that strategy in their pocket.
“I knew they struggled to score in the halfcourt,” Herrick said. “We didn’t want to give them easy stuff, and when you press, you’re gambling. You’re going to give up some easy stuff.”
North was tight on defense the whole game, and that didn’t change in the fourth quarter. The Raiders’ offense just needed a kick, and Martin’s trey provided that.
On the following possession, Martin scored a layup off the dribble. North got it back, and Shope hit a three-pointer off an inbounds play. Mountain View turned it over, and Martin got fouled and hit two free throws.
The Raiders outscored the Bears 26-1 in the fourth quarter, and Martin had 11 of those points. To put North’s lead at 39-24, she hit a layup while barely breaking her stride, flinging the ball high off the backboard as her momentum carried her towards the baseline. To set up the basket that capped a 22-0 run for the Raiders, Martin flung a pass from past halfcourt and hit Perryman in stride for the easy layup. Martin exited the game shortly afterwards, accompanied by a full-throated cheer from North’s student section.
“After my three … I don’t know, I just had so much energy,” Martin said. “I was just like, ‘I’ve got to make everything I shoot.’ So I just went for it.”
Martin led the Raiders (25-2) with 19 points, and Shope had 13.