Just hours before Saturday's tipoff, Cayla Cowart wasn’t focused on the game.
Her attention was on putting pen to paper and signing to play her next basketball season at Tennessee Tech.
Once the game came around, Cowart turned in a team-high 18 points to go along with six rebounds, four assists, and six steals, helping West Forsyth to a 45-39 win over Greenbrier in the first game of the Sandy’s Spiel Tip-Off Classic.
Head coach Mallory Ranfos is excited for both Cowart’s future and the impact she expects Cowart to make this season
“It definitely shows the younger girls, provides them with a really good example of how to just work,” Ranfos said. “She never really got the attention she deserved. She just constantly worked. She’s a gym rat. I think just for the younger girls to see that hard work pays off. It was an exciting time for us, and she’s a great representation of West.”
The Wolverines led 39-16 at the end of the third quarter before getting outscored 23-6 in the fourth.
“Last week against Harrison we got popped in the mouth,” Ranfos said. “I thought we did a much better job today of coming out focused, ready to play. We played great three quarters, and then the fourth quarter we kind of forgot about that and didn’t finish the game out the way I would’ve liked. To hold them to 16 points in three quarters is phenomenal, and then we just kind of brain-lapsed for eight solid minutes. We can’t afford to do that.”
West [1-0] was able to get the early lead because of its defense. They finished with 22 steals in the game and were able to get a lot of fast break opportunities.
“We had 14 steals in the first half,” Ranfos said. “We struggled to convert those, and we only had 20 points. We really should’ve had 10 more points or so. But the girls are doing a great job with their angles and setting themselves up in great positions. Once we got them in trapping areas, we were able to trap and take away that first pass.”
Molly Quincy had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Calie Thrower stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and six steals.
Greenbrier was led by Trinity Barrow, who had 14 points and five rebounds. Caitlin Staley, a 6-foot-3 center, finished with 12 points, five rebounds, and seven blocks.
The second girls basketball game of the day was between South Forsyth and Rabun County.
South [1-0] led 34-26 at halftime before taking over in the third quarter. The War Eagles outscored Rabun 22-4 in the decisive third quarter that allowed them to win 75-54.
Similarly to West in the previous game, South’s ability to force turnovers and create easy looks allowed them to win. They had 20 steals in the game.
South’s ability to share the wealth was also on full display. Sharon Tolliver led the way with 17 points, but four War Eagles scored in double figures and all 10 that got in the game scored.
Ava McGlockton was a beast down low, finishing with 11 points and seven rebounds. South’s other post, Allie Meyer, contributed a team-high 10 rebounds.
On the perimeter, Clara Morris scored 10 points and added four rebounds, four assists, and five steals. Maggie Thompson also had 10 points and distributed the ball well with six assists.
Olivia Brabazon hit three 3-pointers in the second half to help South pull away.
Rabun County was led by Lucy Hood, who scored a game-high 20 points to go along with her six rebounds and four steals. Carley Haban finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, four steals, and three blocks.
West's boys basketball team fell to Johnson-Savannah in the nightcap, 70-62.
Jake Mooney scored a team-high 15 points with two blocks, while Caleb Lesch [12 points, six rebounds] and Will Moore [11 points] each landed in double figures, and Grant Moore turned in eight points, six rebounds and three blocks.
Mooney also signed early Saturday to continue his basketball career at Georgia College & State University.