North Forsyth head coach Eric Herrick became the first in Region 6-AAAAAA to knock off South Forsyth when his Lady Raiders erased an 8-point deficit and eventually ran away with a 47-35 win to spoil senior night for the home team. To be the team to finally beat South, it was a moment worth celebrating.
But Herrick and his team are also all too familiar with devastating injuries after losing his top scorer, Hayley Simpson, to a season-ending leg injury mid-way through the region schedule. That’s why he and the North players were visibly emotional for different reasons when the final horn sounded.
South’s Sarah Myers took a hard fall mid-way through the second quarter after stealing the ball at midcourt and racing for a layup against two defenders. She was clearly in an intense amount of pain, gripping her right ankle, causing a stoppage in play as trainers helped her into an office. The Maryland-signee spent the rest of her senior night in crutches, with an elaborate wrap around her ankle and plenty of ice. She elected to sit courtside, cheering on her teammates through the final whistle, but the Lady War Eagles (20-5, 17-1) will undoubtedly plan on playing through the region and state playoffs without her.
They’re anxiously waiting to hear the extent of Myers’ injury.
“We will come back, prepare just like we do for every game,” South head coach Keith Gravitt said. “I know what they come to practice and get ready for and that won’t change.”
Myers’ fall put Gravitt’s perspective away from the fact his team lost its first region game.
“We always tell our seniors. We tell the team to hug the seniors, and we tell the seniors to let the freshman know how fast it all goes by. The whole team gave every ounce they could tonight. It was emotional. It’s a little bit of a blow.”
“With Sarah going down, it’s heartbreaking,” Herrick said. “It takes the wind out of you. You almost don’t want to coach after that. You worry about the kid. She’s such a great kid and a tough competitor, and it’s hard to play after that, but we had a game to finish. Their kids responded and battled to the end.”
On the court, the night belonged to Morgan Grindle, who spent much of the ensuing boy’s game sharing laughs with Myers in the stands next to the South student section. On the court, she was South’s nemesis down the stretch. Grindle led North (18-7, 13-5) with 19 points—10 came from the charity stripe, and six of those came down the stretch.
“Morgan is an unbelievable competitor,” Herrick said. “She keeps us composed, she hits big shots, big free throws. Morgan has grown into a phenomenal basketball player and a better person than you could imagine. I have a 5-year old and I hope she grows up to be just like her.”
North’s gritty, physical identity shone through in the later moments of the game. Madison Moye tied the game at 35-all with a sweeping, reverse layup under the basket. Then Bella Caracciolo hit a 3-pointer with just over three minutes remaining to break the tie, and managed a clutch steal at mid-court with two minutes left.
Freethrows helped North pull away down the stretch.
Caracciolo was second in scoring with 13 points. South did not have a scorer with more than two made field goals—Mari Jonassen led the team with 8 points. KK Storms, also celebrating senior day, had a big 5-point swing after a layup and a 3-pointer in the third quarter, but was pulled after receiving a technical for arguing with a referee after a loose ball. She did not return to the court in the fourth quarter.