ALPHARETTA — Facing a high-risk, high-reward opportunity, North Forsyth’s girls went into attack mode.
Avery Scarbrough scored 16 points before halftime and Caroline Bowns poured in 10 in the third quarter, as the No. 2 seed Lady Raiders set a new program record for wins and earned their second consecutive state playoff berth with a 68-30 victory against No. 7 seed West Forsyth in the opening round of the Region 6-AAAAAA basketball tournament on Tuesday at Alpharetta High School. The Lady Wolverines’ season is now complete.
North (22-4) was 2-0 against West (8-17) during the regular season, but those contests were decided by an average of 12 points and both remained close until the fourth quarter.
"The last two games I think we kind of played [West Forsyth’s] style," North head coach Eric Herrick said. "It was a little lower scoring and we kind of got lulled into a half-court game.
"The emphasis all week has been getting to the lane, attacking, [and not settling] for the 3-point shot every single time."
The Lady Raiders still hit seven 3-pointers on only 11 attempts, but the emphasis of their offense was points in the paint.
Scarbrough, the team’s junior center, finished with 20 points in less than three full quarters of work after being held to 11 in the last meeting with the Lady Wolverines.
The Lady Raiders carried an 18-7 lead into the second quarter after finishing the first period on a 10-0 run.
Scarbrough took over midway through the second quarter and scored eight consecutive points for the Lady Raiders with the help of two three-point plays that she converted at the free-throw line. Scarbrough said the urgency that comes with an elimination game provided motivation to play her best.
"This game meant a lot to us because if we lost it we were done," Scarbrough said. "I owed it to my seniors to give it all I can for these last games."
Said Herrick: "Avery was just a beast, just attacked, attacked and attacked."
North went into halftime with a comfortable 39-15 lead but didn’t become complacent in the second half.
Bowns (14 points) scored five quick points at the start of the third quarter, then came up with a steal that led to a transition layup by Lochlain Corliss, pushing the lead to 31 points.
Herrick pulled his starters near the end of the third quarter, but the Lady Raiders’ reserves still won the scoring battle 8-6 in a shortened fourth period.
"I thought it was probably one of our most complete games of the year," Herrick said.
Freshman center Jenna Staiti scored 16 points for the Lady Wolverines, who played without forward Mary Henner. The senior suffered a season-ending ankle injury against North on Feb. 5.
North’s victory marked the first time the program has ever won 22 games in a single season. The Lady Raiders won a program best 21 games last season and tied the mark in their 50-39 win over West last week.
"I think it’s really gotten our school spirit up," senior Carlin Light said of the Lady Raiders’ success. "People are coming out to the games more.
"It’s awesome that my junior and senior years we’ve gone to state [since the] first two years we were terrible. I think Coach Herrick really pushed us and made a difference."
North will face No. 6 seed Lambert in the Region 6 semifinals at 4 p.m. on Friday in Alpharetta. The winner of that contest earns a home playoff game in the opening round of the state tournament.