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Basketball: Raiders lock down Bulldogs
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Forsyth County News

When Forsyth Central guard T.J. Custer connected on a jumper during the third quarter Tuesday night, the scoreboard operator at the D.B. Carroll Complex initially awarded two points to North Forsyth.

It had become an action of reflex by then. That’s how few and far between the points were for Central in a 40-27 loss.

The Raiders won just their third game of the year, holding the Bulldogs to six points in the first half and eight until the 2:20 mark in the third quarter.

Central hit just 12 of 46 shots (26 percent).

North (3-8, 0-2 Region 6-AAAAA) terminated a six-game skid and now has matched its 2010-11 win total. Guard Chris Bureau and swing man Caleb Knost scored 10 points apiece to lead all scorers in a defensive slugfest.

 “[The Bulldogs] didn’t shoot as well probably as they usually do, but I thought we guarded their better players pretty well and made someone else try to score,” said first-year North coach Brian Moon. “We’re fortunate, because they usually shoot it pretty well.”

The Bulldogs (7-4, 0-3 Region 7-AAAA) missed 13 of 15 3-pointers and 7 of 8 free throws. They converted just two field goals in the first half and trailed 27-6 at the break.

Despite a height advantage of at least 6 inches on every North player, 6-foot-11-inch center Andrew Fishler was virtually nonexistent on the offensive end. Custer, a dangerous outside marksman, shot just 2 of 9 from the floor.

Chap Lindstrom led Central in scoring on the night with six points.

“They seemed to be in attack mode, and we were just back on our heels from the get-go,” said Central coach Steve Barnes, whose team has dropped four of its last five. “I wish we had an excuse, but we don’t. We just got whooped.”

The absence of Damien Butler didn’t help.

Central’s starting point guard is not expected to be back with the team this season.

North didn’t do anything complicated defensively, but it did challenge most of Central’s shots and force 13 turnovers.

The Raiders jumped out to a 17-5 lead after a quarter, then held the Bulldogs scoreless from the floor in the second.

Central didn’t reach double digits until late in the third quarter, when center Ryder Bowline’s inside shot broke a near 10-minute scoring drought.

By then, the Raiders had built a 33-10 advantage.

“This win was big,” forward Julian Gonzales said. “Everyone was really pumped up for it. At halftime, we were all excited. We really just wanted to go out there and keep playing.”

Gonzales, a 6-foot-3-inch forward, frequently matched up with Fishler at both ends of the floor. Though the Central big man blocked eight shots, Gonzales held him to four points and two rebounds — with some help from collapsing teammates.

“He’s a big guy, but you guard him up front, you have backside help, you have your teammates always behind you [or] in front of you, whenever you need them, they’re there,” Gonzales said.

North has won just six of its last 28 including all of last season, but every victory serves as turning point material, Moon said.

“We’ve been playing hard, being competitive, so eventually you think you’re going to pull one out,” said Moon, whose squad avenged a 52-49 loss Nov. 19 at the Forsyth County Hoopfest. “Maybe this will be a catalyst for the rest of the season.”

North plays Johnson at 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday, the first of the two-day Hall vs. Forsyth Holiday Shootout at Johnson High School. Central plays North Hall at 3:30 p.m. that day, followed by a Thursday, 6:30 p.m. matchup with Johnson.  North squares off with North Hall at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.