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Lambert, North Forsyth girls fall in region tournament, missing state playoffs
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Lambert's Summer Edwards battles for a loose ball Wednesday in the Region 6-AAAAAA Tournament. - photo by Micah Green

North Forsyth took a 26-16 halftime lead with a Kelsey Johnson 3-pointer, then inched farther in the next eight minutes to take a 34-23 lead into the final quarter, but a scoreless fourth doomed the Lady Raiders in a disappointing 42-34 loss to Centennial on Wednesday in the quarterfinal round of the Region 6-AAAAAA region tournament.

North was outscored 19-0 in the final eight minutes, with Centennial's Shekina Guthrie and Brianna Perry leading the charge. Guthrie scored 16 points, while Perry had 14 points, including three 3-pointers. North also had trouble rebounding against

It was a shocking collapse for North (18-7, 13-5), which entered the postseason having won seven in a row and 10 of its last 11 games. In the blink of an eye, the Lady Raiders will now miss their team goal of qualifying for the state tournament.

North head coach Eric Herrick thought his team, which had been rattling off region wins with great shooting performances, simply fell too quickly back to earth in the final eight minutes of the most meaningful game of the season.

“If you can't score, you can't win,” Herrick said. “We've been on a good roll, because we've shot so well. It's no secret that we live and die by the three, and tonight we died by it.”

The Lady Raiders did not have a single scorer in double digits. Cassie Markle was North's most impactful player, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring 9 points, while also making numerous possession-saving tips to teammates. Johnson helped out with 8 points, while senior point guard Morgan Grindle dished four assists.

“I thought we defended well for three quarters,” Herrick said. “(This season) has been a good run. This is a fun group of kids, but we were a little bit short tonight.”

Northview girls 52, Lambert girls 49 (2OT)

The heartbreak followed into the No. 4 vs. No. 5 matchup between Lambert and Northview, respectively. The Lady Longhorns erased a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to force overtime, thanks to a clutch layup by senior Ashley Johnson, but were outscored 7-4 in the extra periods.

Lambert head coach Jaime Fisher knew the matchup would be difficult, especially considering her team split defensive games with Northview earlier in the season.

“The four-five game is always a tough game. We split with them, they played us tight both times. We knew it was going to be a battle

“I told those young kids to remember this feeling when they don't feel like going to practice or if they're having a bad day, because it sucks. We've got to get better.”

A positive was 20 team steals, including six from M.E. Craven, five from Molly Williams and five from Johnson. Williams led in scoring with 12 points, while Johnson added 9 and Craven had 11 points and seven rebounds.

But Lambert found Northview's duo of Shannon Titus and Ashlee Austin tough to handle. Titus was superb, logging 16 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four steals and four blocks. Austin added 14 points and five boards, while Northview center Maya Richards used her power in the paint to score 7 and grab five boards.

Fisher was disappointed with a game that could have gone either way, and thanked her departing seniors Corrie Baker, Kylee Beecher, Geneva Rumer, Kaylynn Wilkerson, Alex Russell, Johnson and Shayna Lawrence.

“Our seniors have done a lot for our program,” Fisher said. “Most of them were on our most successful team, last year. Unfortunately we came up short this year.”