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Basketball: North girls dominate Central with smothering defense
Caroline Martin
North Forsyth senior Caroline Martin takes the ball inside earlier this season during a 56-23 win against Forsyth Central. - photo by Ben Hendren

Caroline Martin was at a loss for words.

The game she and the rest of North Forsyth’s girls basketball team had just played against Forsyth Central on Friday night wasn’t the primary source of that – The Raiders dispatched the Bulldogs easily behind a stalwart defense for a 56-23 win.

But after her team’s dominant play on the court, remembering the moments she’s shared with teammates at North and celebrating in the locker room, the night couldn’t have been more emotional for her.

“We did amazing,” Martin said. We came together as a team, everybody put in their best effort. I think the crowd and everything and the atmosphere kind of helps us.”

Even so, North head coach Brad Kudlas knew that kind of emotion in a team can be a boost or a hindrance. From the opening tip, it was clear that for the Raiders, the former would be true.

Ansley Allen
North Forsyth senior Ansley Allen is guarded by multiple Forsyth Central defenders on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. - photo by Ben Hendren
“With it being senior night, the girls were pumped,” Kudlas said. “You always get nervous that they may have too much emotion, but they kept it under control and they really used that to help fuel them defensively.”

Indeed, North’s pressure caused plenty of problems for Central in the first, when the Bulldogs mustered just three points and a single field goal courtesy of Elizabeth Pruitt.

But while North’s defense and speed were smothering Central, the Raiders’ shots weren’t quite there in the first quarter. That changed quickly, though, with Martin starting the second quarter with five quick points. By halftime, North led 20-8, and in the third, Martin and fellow senior Ansley Allen helped extended the lead further. Martin and Allen finished with 20 and 17 points, respectively.

“In the second half we knocked down some threes and that's a big part of our game,” Kudlas said. “That's the resiliency of these girls – They know we didn't shoot too well in the first half. They understand that it's going to take sticking with the process and it's going to come through.”

Meanwhile, Central continued to fall victim to turnovers and only made a single field goal in the third before North went on a 14-1 run to end the period, essentially sealing the win before the fourth even started. Aisha Dabo drained a three with 4:10 left to play, but by then, it was far too late.

“The adversity we faced tonight, we did not respond well to,” Central girls coach Angela Hurt said. “There's a whole lot of other stuff you can probably add to that, but ultimately, that is what it is. When we got here and we expected it to go one way and it didn't, we didn't respond well to that.”

Martin and the rest of North’s seniors can feel the end of their run with their teammates approaching. Until it does, though, they’ll continue to enjoy every second.

“I'm going to miss these girls,” Martin said. “They're all my best friends so it's going to be hard.”

Friday’s win improved North’s overall record to 21-2 overall and 7-1 in Region 5-7A. Central fell to 15-7 and 5-3.