A year ago Brian Moon might have taken a win any way North Forsyth’s boys could have gotten one. But with the Raiders winners in eight of their last 11 games, their head coach can afford to be pickier.
The Raiders knocked off rival South Forsyth 52-32 on Tuesday at Raider Arena behind freshman guard Chad Bureau’s game-high 13 points, but Moon saw a number of things that will need to change if the team hopes to continue its recent success.
"We made some shots tonight and two of [South’s] better players didn’t play, so that helps," Moon said. "I didn’t think we played very well.
"I thought with a rivalry game there would be more intensity. I just think we’ve got more in us. We better have, because we play a great Alpharetta team Friday night."
The Raiders (11-9, 3-6 Region 6-AAAAAA) clung to an 18-15 lead midway through the second quarter before a series of three-point plays put them firmly in control going into halftime.
Following a timeout by Moon, Brandon Rapson converted a three-point play at the foul line to push North’s lead to six points. Brandon Marks and Wade Allen later knocked down shots from behind the 3-point arc and Brooks Blevins capped off the half with an improbable 3-pointer.
Blevins caught an inbound pass with 0.4 seconds remaining and drained a quick 3 to extend North’s lead to 30-18 at the break.
"That sure helped," Moon said of Blevins’ basket. "Anytime you can get a bucket late in the quarter it’s always good."
Raiders forward Brandon Rapson scored all 10 of his points in the first half.
North struggled offensively in the third quarter, but increased its lead to 41-22 going into the fourth period by limiting South to only four points.
The War Eagles were unable to close the gap to fewer than 15 points, as Bureau scored seven points in the final period to help the Raiders close out the game.
"He played pretty good," Moon said. "I thought he created some problems for them defensively and got some stuff off his defense."
Jack Armstrong scored 10 points for the War Eagles, who were without forwards Doug Cotter and Greer Landry.
"We didn’t play well but found a way to win, so maybe that’s a great sign," Moon said.
North Forsyth (girls) 67, South Forsyth 24
Every basketball team hopes to peak at the end of the season. With five games remaining on the schedule, North Forsyth’s girls may be doing just that.
The Lady Raiders put on a dominant all-around performance on Tuesday, outscoring South Forsyth 47-8 over the final two and a half quarters in a 67-24 victory at Raider Arena. North’s program record winning streak now stands at 11 consecutive games.
"We may have played our best basketball tonight, mostly on the defensive end," North head coach Eric Herrick said. "We absolutely guarded tonight.
"[South Forsyth forward Sarah Myers] is a heck of a basketball player and Carlin Light did an unbelievable job just limiting her looks, limiting her touches."
North (18-2, 8-1 Region 6B-AAAAAA) was led by Caroline Bowns and Avery Scarbrough, who tied for the game-high with 19 each, while guard Kim Blake added 15. The Lady Raiders limited Myers to a team-high eight points.
"Our kids got to the bucket," Herrick said. "Caroline and Lochlain [Corliss] finished around the bucket and when [South] helped out we kicked to Kim for threes and [she hit them], our posts were finishing ... I think [it was] just a complete game offensively and defensively from our team.
South (14-5, 5-4) trailed by only four points, 20-16, midway through the second quarter before North seized full control. The Lady Raiders closed the first half on a 9-0 run capped off when Bowns drove inside and dished the ball to Blake for a corner 3-pointer with five seconds left.
"I think when [Blake] hit the three going into halftime that gave them some momentum," South head coach Keith Gravitt said. "They beat us to every spot on the floor defensively, they outrebounded us on the offensive and defensive ends, they are a good team. You can’t make the turnovers and get outhustled and expect to beat a [ranked] team."
Bowns scored 11 points in the third quarter, as North stretched its lead to 47-22 before the end of the period. The Lady Raiders also controlled the glass, outrebounding South 35-20 for the game.
"That’s huge," Herrick said. "We’ve been outrebounded the last five games. [Tonight] we were not getting one kid flying to the board, we were getting two or three tackling each other trying to get to the boards, so that was awesome to see.
"Avery is undersized [for a post player] but she plays big. The kid is as strong as any in this region and she just cares so much, she wants to go out and make plays."
Herrick pulled Bowns and Scarbrough early in the fourth quarter and the rest of the starters soon afterward, but North still won the scoring battle 20-2 in the period.
South saw its five-game winning streak snapped, while North’s 43-point victory was its second largest of the season.
"I thought we grew up as a basketball team tonight and played a really intelligent game, especially our point guard, Lochlain," Herrick said. "It’s not going to show up in the stat sheet, but she broke down defenders all night, created mismatches all night, defended her butt off and just did some great stuff for our basketball team."
South returns home to host West Forsyth at 6 p.m. on Friday. North travels to Alpharetta for a rematch with the Lady Raiders, who handed them one of their only two losses earlier this season.