By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
BEST GAMES OF 2016-17: Nos. 6-10
Best Games web graphic

Life moves on, as they say, and so by now it might be easy to forget all the incredible sports moments that transpired during the 2016-17 school year. 

We don’t want to forget, so here is the FCN sports staff’s annual exercise in picking the top 10 games of the school year, starting with Nos. 6 through 10.

First, a little bit on our inexact science used to construct this list. 

The two factors we considered most were drama and the stakes. Drama is somewhat nebulous, for it can be produced in many ways - dramatic plays, dramatic back-and-forth games, dramatic endings, etc. The stakes, of course, is more obvious: what hung in the balance in the midst of the drama? So the same dramatic ending in a regular season game wouldn't compare as well in, say, a state championship.

10. South Forsyth wrestling defeats Forsyth Central to end drought

The real theater came late in to the night, after most of the old domed gymnasium at Forsyth Central had emptied and South Forsyth and the Bulldogs wrestled for second place at the Area 5-7A duals. Two programs who hadn’t qualified for the State Duals in 13 and 11 years, respectively, faced off to change that.

And through nine weights on its home mat, Central was in position to end its drought, getting pins from Ethan Platzke (182), Jake Gardner (285), Abraham Perez (113) and Hunter Kurowski (132) to take a 31-15 lead.

But South stormed back. Jackson Baraff (138) and Charlie Ranta (145) got back-to-back pins to pull within 31-27. Even Trevor Smith conceding only a 13-1 major decision instead of a pin to Miles Bankston at 152 was fortuitous, for it set up back-to-back pins by James Porter (160) and Arvin Khedmati (170) to secure a 39-35 win and clinch South’s first State Duals appearance since 2004.

9. Melms’ buzzer-beater lifts Lambert boys basketball to second round

Down a starter to the flu, out-sized by Meadowcreek, the Longhorns trailed by as much as 11 points in the second quarter at home in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs. Lambert erased that deficit coming out of halftime.

The final 14 minutes was as much back-and-forth basketball as fans could handle. The trio of Musa Thompson, Jordan McIlwain and Damon Stoudamire kept Lambert going, but it was senior point guard Andrew Melms – held scoreless for much of the game – who came through with the game’s biggest play.

With the game tied at 70, Lambert passed the ball around for over a minute to hold for the last shot of regulation. With about 8 seconds left, Melms drove to his left, stopped, spun, and elevated over his defender.

The next sound was the simultaneous swish of the net with the buzzer of the scoreboard.

8. Down to last out, South Forsyth softball survives to reach Columbus

The War Eagles were down to their final out in Game 2 of their second-round state playoff series at Kennesaw Mountain. 

Then standout pitcher Katherine Huey drew a walk. 

That sparked an improbable comeback. Ginny Grace hit a RBI double. Emily Harris followed with a two-run double to tie the game. Jordyn Harris completed the comeback hitting a fly ball down the right field line that caught the inside of the baseline, giving South the win and tying the best-of-three game series.

The War Eagles went on to win Game 3 the next day and reach the GHSA State Championships in Columbus for the second straight season.

7. Lambert girls lacrosse defeats Pope to reach state semifinals

The Longhorns were making history with ever victory in the Class 6-7A state playoffs, but their game in the quarterfinals was their first at home. Head coach Kate Sedgwick was worried her team might be too excited for another milestone game. Then she saw her fears play out in sluggish play. Even a lightning delay at halftime couldn’t help Lambert reset. The Longhorns trailed Pope by as much as 7-3 in the second half.

Then Peyton Smith and Gabby DiVirgilio started to control the draw, and that was enough to jumpstart the Longhorns. Cloe Latini, Sammie Caples and Ali Boisjolie scored to tie the game 7-7. Pope scored to go up 8-7 with 11:01 left in the game, but Smith tied it back up three minutes later.

Jordan O’Rourk scored to give Lambert the lead with 4:34 left. Another goal by DiVirgilio with 3:04 left helped too.

Then it was up to goalie and Virginia Tech signee Morgan Berman to hold the lead. The Greyhounds managed three shots on goal. One sailed high. The other two Berman stopped with athletic saves.

6. Lambert competition cheer defeats South by one point for fourth state title

Lambert edged rival South 289-288, marking the second consecutive season that the Lady Longhorns edged the Lady War Eagles by a single point. 

Lambert had to go to sectionals on Friday, where it won, setting up a momentous run on championship day. The Lady Longhorns hit the floor fourth out of the 16 teams, so they didn’t have to wait long for their routine. That was contrast to years past when they’ve had to wait toward the end of the day.

It was a close call, but when asked if head coach Brent Paige wants to create more separation between county rivals in the future, he took a reserved approach.

“If it’s one point every year I’ll take it,” he laughed.