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Boys basketball: Raiders beat West for first region win since 2010
North boys rally from early 10-point deficit
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North Forsyth forward Brandon Rapson goes up for a layup over West Forsyths Jimmy Staiti on Friday at West Forsyth High School. Rapson led the Raiders with 13 points. - photo by Jared Putnam

Reasons to smile have been few and far between for North Forsyth’s boys basketball team over the last few years. Region wins? Completely non-existent.

North found both again Friday night.

The Raiders rallied from an early 10-point hole and scored almost as many points in the fourth quarter as they did in the first three periods combined to defeat archrival West Forsyth 53-46 in the Wolverines’ gymnasium. It was North’s first region win since February 2010 and the team’s first victory over West since January 2008.

Forward Brandon Rapson led the Raiders (8-8, 1-5 Region 6B-AAAAAA) with 13 points, while guard Wade Allen scored eight of his 12 in the fourth quarter. Rome Bailey was also in double figures with 10 points, while Caleb Knost added nine.

"I like to see our kids with a smile on their face when they leave [the gym]," North second-year head coach Brian Moon said. "I’ve seen a lot of the other, so it feels good.

"The kids just kept battling and ... didn’t freak [over the early deficit]. That’s what’s so good."

Early on the Wolverines, whose four region wins from 2010-12 all came against the Raiders, appeared ready to continue controlling the rivalry series.

North was held without a point for the first five minutes of the game, as West (2-8, 0-5) jumped out to a 9-0 lead.

The Wolverines almost kept the momentum going into the second period after Grant Anderson came up with a steal and transition layup that pushed the lead to 13-3 with five seconds left. Instead, Allen quickly pushed the ball up the floor for the Raiders and hit a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the gap to seven points.

"Wade played really good tonight," Moon said. "I thought he took care of the ball like he needs to as a senior."

North cut West’s lead to two points twice during the second period but trailed 19-15 heading into halftime.

The Raiders weren’t able to pull even with the Wolverines until the 1:48 mark in the third quarter, when Rapson scored in the paint to tie the game 25-25.

Bailey added a basket with 1:10 left in the third period, allowing North to take a 27-26 lead into the final quarter.

The Raiders led by as much as seven points midway through the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines narrowed the gap back to a single point, 44-43, on a 3-pointer by Nick Staiti (13 points) with 1:28 remaining.

Knost went to the free-throw line for North 13 seconds later and hit both shots to boost the lead to 46-43. West’s Zach Evans was called for a charge on the Wolverines’ ensuing possession, forcing West to begin fouling to send North to the free throw line.

Allen knocked down five consecutive free throws to extend the Raiders’ lead to seven points and secure the victory.

The Raiders hit 11 of their 12 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter and finished the period with 26 points after totaling just 27 in the first three.

"We were kind of prepared that they would make a run and we just didn’t respond by missing shots and turning the ball over and not rebounding, doing those types of things," West head coach Jim Cook said.

Jimmy Staiti scored 12 points for West, while John Conway added nine.

"I think these boys want to win some games, so maybe we’ll win a few more," Moon said.

"We need to beat somebody that maybe people don’t think we can. I think our confidence will be there."

The Raiders return home to host Centennial at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, while the Wolverines travel to Alpharetta.