If there’s been one constant about the North Forsyth boys this season, it’s this: you really don’t know what you’re going to get on any given night.
One game, it could be a 3-for-28 performance from 3-point range, as was the case in the Raiders’ Dec. 5 visit to West Forsyth. On a different evening, North will get on a roll from deep.
Nick Cunningham’s back-to-back 3-pointers to open Friday’s game in Coal Mountain signaled that it might be the latter version of the Raiders. Those suspicions were confirmed—North hit 10 of its 3-point attempts (five from Cunningham, four from Dakota Holtzclaw) and held off West Forsyth, 58-52.
“Cunningham and Holtzclaw hitting shots just opened the game up for them and they can beat anybody like that,” West coach Jim Cook said.
That’s how North (7-12 overall, 4-8 Region 6-AAAAAA) decided it’s going to play, Raiders coach Brian Moon said, by shooting tons of 3s. North has four players who can shoot it, and shoot it they did, most of all during a 17-2 second quarter run.
Connor Stephenson and Holtzclaw hit 3s, Holtzclaw skied for a put-back layup then, after West’s Jimmy Staiti dunked from the baseline, knocked down a 3 from 24 feet. Holtzclaw added another 3-pointer and Chad Bureau scored on a free throw and layup.
Two of the Wolverines’ top perimeter defenders, Cam Macer and Jeremy Magee, picked up two early fouls, forcing them to the bench—and forcing Cook to switch up his rotations.
“We tried a little bit of everything, both zone and man,” Cook said. “We didn’t figure things out quick enough and you can’t leave those guys open.”
West (8-10, 4-8) went cold from the field in the third quarter; Cam Macer’s two 3-pointers were the Wolverines’ only points. Cook’s team cut the North lead to six with an 8-0 run midway through the final quarter, but Coleton Holzer’s layup high off the glass and just over John Peterson’s right hand and Holtzclaw’s corner 3-pointer with 1:50 to play were too much to overcome.
Cook played loud music and crowd noise at practice this week in anticipation of a hostile environment, and West handled a packed Raider Arena well.
“I told them before and after the game that, win lose or draw, I’m glad they got to experience this, because this is what high school basketball is all about,” Cook said.
Jimmy Staiti (16 points, nine rebounds) scored 10 of the Wolverines’ 24 fourth quarter points, but by then, it was too late.
“It was a good battle tonight,” Moon said. “Hopefully, kids will feel good about coming in Monday for practice.”
North Forsyth boys 58, West Forsyth 52
West Forsyth 8 14 6 24_52
North Forsyth 8 21 11 18_58
West Forsyth: Staiti 16, Macer 10, Morris 9, Magee 7, Peterson 4, Frietas 3, Fuller 3.
North Forsyth: Cunningham 17, Holtzclaw 16, Bureau 11, Holzer 8, Stephenson 6.