Often times the difference between a good basketball team and a great basketball team is determined by preparation. Undoubtedly, those who do their homework and sharpen their mental games before opening tip-off tend to be the ones who earn elite status.
The North Forsyth Lady Raiders are elite, and for good reason. Take Friday’s game against Spain Park (Ala.) for example.
With an unfamiliar opponent coming to town, North head coach Eric Herrick spent time combing over tape of Spain Park’s team—identifying where they were strong and where they could be exploited. Herrick concluded that Spain Park was a physical group that thrived in the paint.
And thus the game plan was created.
Said junior Caroline Bowns: "We knew if we could out-rebound them, we’d win the game."
The Lady Raiders would do just that, thanks in large part to a tremendous effort from senior forward Avery Scarbrough. Not only did Scarbrough score 15 points, she hauled in 17 rebounds, as well—dominating down low, effectively neutralizing Spain Park’s greatest strength.
North (14-0) piled up a big lead in the first quarter and cruised the rest of the way, winning 64-44 to maintain its undefeated record.
"We jumped on them from the beginning and didn’t look back," said Herrick. "Our pressure really hurt them. It was a good win for us and a good way to start off the new year.
"We wanted to make sure we were ready. Unprepared teams get upset, and we didn’t want to be in that boat."
While North as a whole was a calm, cool and collected bunch, Scarbrough maintained a high level of intensity from start to finish. Her dominant play at both ends of the court sent the message that even though Spain Park may be a physical opponent, North had control in the paint.
"She was a beast," Herrick said of Scarbrough. "Avery loves it when the competition is good. They’re a big basketball team and throw three or four big athletic bodies at you.
"Avery likes to be the boss out there. She doesn’t like anyone showing her up, and she likes to be the most physical, the toughest—and tonight she definitely was."
"We came in prepared; we knew they were a good basketball team," said Scarbrough. "We knew they were big, so we were ready to box out and rebound our best."
Even though Scarbrough stole the show, North received significant contributions from up and down the roster. Bowns’ early baskets put Spain Park in a big first quarter hole and set the tempo for the remainder of the night. In total she racked up 13 points—10 of which came in the first quarter.
Junior Sydney Pefanis chipped in 11 points, senior Kendall Bennett had 9 and junior Lochlain Corliss had eight.
"We were able to share the ball, get everyone involved," said Bowns. "It was a team effort tonight."