Jonathan Pefanis sometimes whips passes to his North Forsyth boys basketball teammates with a certain flair. On those occasions, the passes can have necessary zip to them, as the junior point guard will employ these lasers when limited to the slimmest of openings in an opponent’s defense.
And there is no way for Pefanis to warn his teammates, so it is on them to be ready.
“Most of them” are, Pefanis said. “Not all the time, but most of the time they do expect it, because I do it all the time in practice.”
Pefanis showcased his passing wizardry Friday night against Forsyth Central on North’s first two possessions of the third quarter. On each, he ran a pick-and-roll with Raiders forward Preston Wiggins. After Wiggins ran a screen for Pefanis, he cut to the basket and waited for Pefanis’ pass. Each time, Pefanis slung a left-handed bouncing pass into the paint, and each time Wiggins finished with a layup. After the second one, Central called a timeout in frustration.
The rest of the third quarter belonged to Pefanis and North, during which he displayed a greater array of talents while the Raiders took control against the Bulldogs for a comfortable 54-42 victory at home and their first Region 5-7A victory. After those passes to Wiggins, Pefanis hit a fading jumper, took a hard foul on a drive that resulted in one made free throw, made a 3-pointer from the corner, found a teammate for another 3 and got to the free throw line again, where he made one.
By the end of the quarter, North’s nine-point halftime lead had swelled to 19. By the end of the game, Pefanis had 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals.
“He’s got good vision,” North head coach Brian Moon said, “and he’s not selfish at all. He knows when to go get a shot, he knows when to give it up. I’m really pleased with how he played.”
The Raiders (6-8, 1-1 Region 5-7A) gave a well-rounded performance overall with an egalitarian offense and disciplined defense. Moon lauded senior guard Kellson Gravitt’s work in limiting Central senior wing Dominic Patterson to just four points. After a listless first quarter for both teams, North got a jolt from reserves Braden Thomas and Trevor Elliott, who finished with 11 and eight points, respectively.
Last season, the Bulldogs thumped North by 25 points in the teams' first meeting. Pefanis was taking Friday night as a sign that the Raiders have a new potential this season.
“It took some time,” Pefanis said. “We had a couple games in the first half of the season where we would bicker and yell at each other, but in the long run it’s working.”
North Forsyth girls 55, Forsyth Central 32
Newcomer Catherine Shope has been the sharpshooter for the Raiders this season, but sophomore Caroline Martin took the role Friday with 21 points, including four 3-pointers, as North stayed unbeaten in Region 5-7A play.
Shope wasn’t silent, of course, contributing 10 points with two 3-pointers, but Martin carried much of the scoring load through the third quarter, when North turned an 11-point halftime lead into a 23-point advantage.
Nine different players scored for the Raiders (13-2, 2-0 Region 5-7A), and 15 players in all got playing time.
Morgan Day led Central (6-8, 0-2) with 11 points, all of which came in the first half.