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Basketball: Forsyth County alumni Martin, Smith lead teams to conference titles
CarolineMartin_SuttonSmith
North Forsyth alum Caroline Martin, left, and Denmark alum Sutton Smith each led their team to a conference championship on Sunday. File photos

Two Forsyth County alumni brought home conference championships Sunday, as North Forsyth graduate Caroline Martin led North Georgia to a 72-65 win against Clayton State in the Peach Belt Conference title game and Denmark graduate Sutton Smith helped the University of Alabama in Huntsville to the Gulf South Conference championship with an 86-72 win over Union [Tenn.].

Martin finished with 18 points in the 72-65 victory over the Lakers, shooting 14-for-17 from the free-throw line. Martin also had six rebounds and two assists. 

The two-time Forsyth County News Player of the Year is averaging 14.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest and is shooting 42 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3-point range.

Martin, the conference's reigning freshman of the year, was named to the PBC first team and PBC all-tournament team this season. Martin averaged 16.6 points during the Nighthawks' three-game tournament run, shooting 30-for-35 from the charity stripe.

North Georgia is ranked No. 9 nationally and will host the Division II Southeast Regional this week as the No. 1 seed, beginning with a 5 p.m. tip Friday against Columbus State. The winner will face the Wingate [N.C.]/Carson-Newman [Tenn.] winner in the regional semifinals on Saturday.

Smith helped UAH through the Gulf South Conference tournament, knocking off fifth-seeded West Georgia and top-seeded West Alabama before toppling second-seeded Union in the championship game.

Smith finished with three points, adding two steals, two assist and a rebound. His 3-pointer in the second half pushed the Chargers' lead to 10 points. 

Smith also had a three in the win against West Alabama and played seven minutes against a West Georgia team that was led by West Forsyth alum Michael Zabetakis — Zabetakis finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Smith, who was named GSC Freshman of the Week last month, is averaging 2.6 points with 57 assists this season.

UAH earned the seventh seed in the Division II South Regional and will face second-seeded Barry [Fla.] Saturday in the opening round. The winner will face the winner of Embry-Riddle [Fla.] and West Alabama.

Denmark had another tie to a conference champion this weekend as Adonnis Tolbert and the Augusta University Jaguars captured the Peach Belt Conference title. Tolbert played 20 minutes this season, and his best outing came Dec. 4 against Allen [S.C.] when he collected six points and seven rebounds and just 10 minutes of play.