For North Forsyth head coach Eric Herrick, winning alone isn’t enough to feel content. Not when the Lady Raiders sit atop their region. Not when they are among the best teams in the state.
So while North (20-2, 10-1) was able to get a 57-49 victory Friday night over Lambert (6-15, 1-10), there were no celebrations taking place in the Raider locker room after the game, nor were there any smiles. Rather, there was some serious reflecting and some choice words from their coach.
If ever a win could be considered a wake-up call, it was this one.
"We’re not satisfied at all," said Herrick. "You expect certain kids to make plays and come out strong, and I was very disappointed with our effort tonight."
Herrick was especially displeased with his girls’ defensive work, which lacked its usual tenacity and discipline. Lambert’s path to the hoop was rarely difficult, as the Lady Longhorns were able to dominate the boards for most of the contest. More than anything else, this kept the score relatively close.
Lady Longhorn sophomore Ashley Johnson was able to take advantage of this, racking up eight points on the night, most of which came from down low.
"We just weren’t aggressive enough in the paint," Herrick said. "We struggled to contain Johnson. They ended up getting some dump-down layups, some offensive rebounds.
"We’re used to being smaller than every team we play, but we make up for that with effort, and the effort wasn’t really there tonight."
North fell to a quick 17-8 deficit in the first quarter, which was mostly attributed to a lack of energy and some untimely turnovers. Additionally, the long layoff between Monday’s practice and this game could have played a role here, but as Coach Herrick pointed out, Lambert had the same amount of time off.
Eventually, though, the Lady Raiders regrouped and closed the gap. They went into halftime ahead and didn’t look back.
One of the bright spots for North was the play of Okwunne Ogbogu. The 5-foot-11 junior is often the first player off the bench, providing important depth for the Lady Raiders—and that depth was extremely important on Friday.
With Avery Scarbrough feeling under the weather, Ogbogu filled that void with some big shots and solid rebounding. She finished the night with eight points and six rebounds.
"Okwunne was huge," said Herrick. "When we were struggling to find a basket, she got some offensive rebounds and a three-point play. That was huge for us."
"I felt good," Ogbogu said. "It was an urgency thing. When someone’s down I have to pick it up."
In addition to Johnson, Leah Cote had a strong showing for Lambert, scoring eight points and hauling in seven boards. Freshman Kara Kidwell contributed 10 points as well, a team-high.
The Lady Raiders returned to practice on Saturday, focused on regaining the energy and work ethic that led them to such a successful season thus far. They’ll look to improve on Tuesday when they travel to Centennial.
"This needs to be an eye opener for us," said Herrick. "Twenty wins is a big plateau for us, but we need to be playing our best basketball this time of year. We need to be better."