The North Forsyth Raiders girls basketball team proved its defense is to be reckoned with in a Region 8-6A game against Apalachee, winning 54-16 Tuesday night at home.
“We put a lot of ball pressure on the top,” senior Erin Whalen said on the defense. "We were working our tails off out there."
Said fellow 12th-grader Kamryn Gardner, “We anticipated the pass a lot and that made it easy to get those transition points.”
Whalen and London Weaver led the Raiders in points with 14 each. Gardner added 11 points.
The Raiders started off their first offensive possession with a turnover, and the Wildcats' Desiree Trudel led the fast break and took it to the hoop for the first basket.
Raiders head coach Brad Kudlas took no time to start full-court pressing the Wildcats, and it paid its dividends.
A 19-0 run by the Raiders was a key to the impressive performance. The defense gave the Wildcats a tough time, limiting them to just those initial two points in the first quarter.
“Our team chemistry and getting deflections on every ball is what sparked the run,” Whalen said.
It was Destiny Montgomery's mid-range jumper that broke Apalachee’s offensive slump. Shortly after, Wildcat Jyrah Hughley jumped in the passing lane, setting up Trudel with a baseline layup to cut the deficit to 19-6.
Apalachee was causing turnovers, but the Raiders' good interior defense prevented the Wildcats from finishing plays off.
Both offenses went cold, as no one scored for four minutes in the second quarter. On one possession, the Raiders grabbed three offensive rebounds but still couldn’t cash in.
The drought ended when the Raiders were moving the ball around and the play freed up Whalen who got fouled on a 3-point attempt. She made the best of the free throw opportunity by converting all three to grow the lead to 22-6 with 3:54 left in the half.
Meredith Franklin delivered the ball to Gardner at the corner and resumed the Raiders' great performance in the second half, nailing the 3 for a 30-6 lead.
Again, the Raiders defense was in sync and gave the Wildcats a tough time running their offensive plays. It wasn’t until 1:13 left in the third quarter that Justanna Smoot scored with a mid-range jumper to end the Wildcats' offensive skid.
The Wildcats and Raiders traded 3-point shots. The Wildcats got their first 3-pointer to go down. And Raider Gabbie Gliatta passed to Regan Smith for a triple of their own. Later Carlie Lumpkin slipped past the defense, and she was left wide open to drill a 3-pointer from the wing.
Despite the big lead, the Raiders kept the same energy as they began the game, with Gardner knocking down a 3-pointer. The Wildcats had no answer for the Raiders, as they finished with just 10 points in the second half.
North Forsyth (12-6, 5-1) will play Greater Atlanta Christian Jan. 21 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.