Both North Forsyth Middle School’s eighth-grade boys and girls teams won the Forsyth County championship Jan. 30.
The girls team, led by head coach Derek Shelton, beat South Forsyth, which had not lost a game in the past two years.
“To beat that team, we had to have a lot of people play well,” Shelton said. “Other coaches were coming up to me in shock.”
North led the entire way through. South made a run at the end of the fourth quarter to bring the deficit to just one point, but North converted five straight free throws late in the game to win 45-38.
Emma Rose led the game with 14 points and Ava Brundidge scored 10. London Weaver, who Shelton called the best player in the county at her age level, scored 11 and made a big 3-pointer to give North an early lead.
“It was one of those moments where we were like ‘Oh wow, she’s finally open,’” Shelton said.
Shelton coached the same team as seventh graders a year before and said that every single person on the team has improved steadily, adding that he thinks they will all contribute at the high school level.
The boys team had a difficult time against Vickery Creek Middle School. North head coach Josh Day said the Vickery student section caused an environment so chaotic that his boys could not communicate plays on the court.
North had the game tied at halftime, but Vickey led by nine with three minutes left in the game.
Off of a timeout, Brady Holbrook sank a 3-pointer to start a 10-0 run to end the game 40-39 in favor of North.
Big steals by Ty Womack and Louie Koulouvaris helped narrow the gap. Day said the final moments of the game felt like a movie.
“[Louie Koulouvaris] gives what had to have been the perfect pass to our big man Michael Iadevaia for the last points of the game with 3.7 seconds left,” Day said.
Vickery got the ball with one final shot attempt. From about 5 feet behind the 3-point line, Vickery barely missed a shot that would have won the game.
“I will never forget the feeling of watching that ball hit the rim,” Day said. “The feeling of ‘Oh my God, that really just happened.’ People in the stands were thinking it was over, but not our team. They’re too hard-headed to think they were out of the game.”
With both region titles heading to North middle, fans can be hopeful for the future of North basketball.
“Was there some luck involved? Has to be,” Day said. “But the competitive fire and drive is unlike any I’ve seen from boys that age.”