Brandon Rapson wouldn’t have wanted it to end any other way.
Rapson and the rest of North Forsyth’s senior boys received a grand send-off in what was likely the final home game of their varsity careers, as they defeated county rival West Forsyth 49-38 on senior night before the large student section in attendance rushed the court to celebrate with them on Tuesday at Raider Arena.
"It was probably one of the best feelings [I’ve experienced], especially with all the fans coming out," Rapson said.
" ... It’s always great to beat West and to have them as our last home game [was even better]."
Rapson led North with 15 points, while fellow seniors Caleb Knost (11) and Branson Marks (8) combined for an additional 19.
The Raiders improved their record to 12-12 overall (4-9 Region 6-AAAAAA),
matching their win total from the previous three seasons combined.
"It’s always so much fun winning, especially after the past few seasons have been pretty bad years," Rapson said. "It’s especially [nice] as a senior to be able to have a good year your last year."
North trailed 11-6 late in the first quarter but pulled ahead 21-15 going into halftime courtesy of a 9-0 run in the second quarter. Marks knocked down two 3-pointers in the second period.
"[North] did a fairly good job of executing on offense and we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well," West head coach Jim Cook said. "I think we shot about 25 percent for the first half ... and it just got worse from there."
The Raiders stretched their lead to 15 points late in the third quarter with the help of a couple of hustle plays.
Leading 28-20, senior guard Wade Allen ripped an offensive rebound away from a pair of Wolverines (2-11 Region 6) just inside the 3-point line, and with both defenders on the floor, Allen had plenty of time to step back beyond the arc and knock down a shot. The Raiders added two more baskets inside soon afterward to increase the advantage to 35-20.
Rapson sealed the victory by scoring seven points in the final period.
Zach Evans and Jimmy Staiti led West with 10 points apiece.
"We had a lot of different people step up and do some good things tonight," North head coach Brian Moon said. "Little [Chad] Bureau, our freshman, got us going when he came in the game and made a shot or two and I can’t say enough about how well [senior] Rob Oldham played off the bench tonight — he played like a senior should on senior night.
"We just kind of methodically did it tonight. We were able to get the ball in the post at certain times we really needed to."
The Raiders close out the regular season at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Centennial. West hosts Alpharetta in its final game at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Both squads will open the Region 6-AAAAAA tournament on Feb. 13 at Alpharetta.
North Forsyth (girls) 50, West Forsyth 39
North Forsyth’s girls basketball team won a program record 21 games last season.
Less than a year later, the Lady Raiders are already on the verge of eclipsing that mark.
North defeated county rival West Forsyth 50-39 in the final home game of the regular season on Tuesday at Raider Arena, matching its 21-victory mark set during the 2011-12 season. The Lady Raiders will have at least two attempts to get their 22nd win in the coming week.
The Lady Raiders (21-3, 11-2 Region 6-AAAAAA) had to earn Tuesday’s victory, as they struggled to shake the Lady Wolverines (8-15, 3-10) until the fourth quarter. North stretched a six-point lead to 12 by scoring on three consecutive possessions — all off of West turnovers.
"You want to try to have a few more spurts like that during the game," North head coach Eric Herrick said.
"Those rallies were just few and far between tonight, and when we did turn them over we [often] didn’t convert. Luckily we saved the best for last and had a run there at the start of the fourth quarter that I think was the difference in the game."
Caroline Bowns led North with 16 points, while Avery Scarbrough scored 11 and Lochlain Corliss added 10.
Leading 40-34 midway through the final period, North forced West into a 10-second violation and capitalized when Bowns passed to Okwunne Ogbogu underneath the basket for an easy two points.
Another West turnover on the ensuing possession allowed Carlin Light to hit Bowns underneath the basket for a layup. Bowns then created her own basket shortly after West inbounded the ball, coming up with a steal and layup to push the score to 46-34.
"When she gets penetration [into the defense] she usually make the appropriate read," Herrick said of Bowns. "She’s just a very skilled basketball player."
The night got off to a good start for the Lady Wolverines, who briefly had a healthy starting lineup for the first time in almost two months.
Guard Maddie O’Connor scored 10 points in her first full game since injuring her ankle in the middle of December, but her return was quickly dampened when senior forward Mary Henner suffered an ankle injury of her own late in the first quarter and did not return to the game.
West freshman center Jenna Staiti led all scorers with 19 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the abscence of Henner.
"We’ve kind of battled [injuries] all year," West head coach David May said. "Maddie’s been out [so long], I think she only played the first four games [of the season]. Mary’s been in and out, Jenna’s been in and out, that’s how it is though.
"I thought our girls did a good job of stepping up and we were right there with a chance to win; we just kind of lost mental focus down the stretch."
The Lady Raiders will have a chance to set a new program record for wins when they play at Centennial on Friday at 6 p.m. West hosts Alpharetta in its final game at 6 p.m. on Friday. Both squads will open the Region 6-AAAAAA tournament on Feb. 12 at Alpharetta.