The Buzz: Winners of Week 2!
When last we saw North Forsyth and South Forsyth girls’ basketball on the same court, one hoisted the Region 6-AAAAAA trophy, the other steamed inside, scheming next on how to make county history.
It is the magnitude of the Lady Raiders’ and Lady War Eagles’ 2013-14 seasons that make Tuesday night’s showdown more compelling than maybe any regular season girls’ basketball game the county has ever seen.
Both are coming off the best season in their respective program’s history. North went 28-3, won said region title and reached the Elite Eight of the Class AAAAAA tournament, falling to eventual state runner-up Archer. South went 27-6, lost to North in said region title game but one-upped the Lady Raiders by reaching the Final Four of the state tournament, losing to eventual state champion McEachern.
So we come to Tuesday’s game, a 6 p.m. region contest, and little has changed for either team.
The cast of characters is largely the same, save for a few additions. North is still led by the senior duo of guards Lochlain Corliss and Caroline Bowns, but now Maddie Palmer and Okwunne Ogbogu patrol the paint and freshmen Bella Carraciolo and Amber Jones lead the reinforcements off the bench. South is still led by University of Maryland commit Sarah Myers, KK Storms, Mercer commit Ally Welch and Shelby Threlkeld but now Mari Jonassen can run the point and Caroline Diem and Emily Dreslinski get more minutes.
In fact, consider how similar their seasons have been.
North is 14-1 overall this season. South is 12-2.
North is 8-0 in the region. South is 7-0.
North is ranked No. 4 in Class AAAAAA by MaxPreps. South is No. 5.
That last meeting, the one inside West Forsyth’s gym with the packed stands and the thrilling play, ended with North winning 49-45. Here are three things that could play a factor in how tomorrow’s meeting unfolds:
1. North’s outside shooting
When the Lady Raiders are shooting well from outside, they enter the how-do-we-stop-them category of teams. Just ask Johns Creek. North went 13-for-24 (54.2 percent) from behind the 3-point line for a 62-33 victory, and that’s close to the formula for the Lady Raiders. They want to attempt at least 20 3-pointers and hope Bowns, Corliss, Jones, Morgan Grindle, etc., are knocking them down.
“I think they can flat out shoot it,” South head coach Keith Gravitt said. “They’ve got multiple people who can shoot the basketball.”
But when the shots aren’t falling, North can get in trouble like it did in a 52-32 loss to Elizabethtown (N.C.) in the Carolina Invitational over the winter break in which the Lady Raiders went just 2-for-13 on 3-pointers.
2. South’s fast break offense
If you’ve watched a Lady War Eagles’ basketball game this season then you’ve seen a South player grab a defensive rebound or make the inbounds pass after an opponent’s field goal, at which point Gravitt waves his arm frantically, imploring his team to push the ball up the court.
South operates at a different pace than most teams. With athleticism and speed at all five positions on the court, the Lady War Eagles can stress out defenses with their fast break offense.
Opposing defenses have to make difficult choices against South. Myers is the obvious go-to scorer who is averaging 20.3 points a game. Focus on her, though, and Welch (9.9 PPG), Storms (8.4), Threlkeld (7.0), Jonassen (5.5), Diem (4.9) and Dreslinski (4.6) are happy to make opponents pay.
“They have so many dimensions to their team,” North head coach Eric Herrick said. “It’s definitely a huge challenge on our defense to slow them down.”
This is where both teams thrive. They operate defensively off the hope of bewildering opponents with pressure to create turnovers that lead to easy baskets. North in particular is reliant on its press. But South’s 62-54 victory against West Forsyth on Saturday turned when the Lady War Eagles’ pressure defense started working toward the end of the first quarter. South wound up forcing 29 turnovers.
North and South have the speed and acumen to handle pressure defense. Whoever handles it better Tuesday night could walk out alone in first place in the region.
A look at the North-South girls' basketball series history, according to available online records:
NORTH won 49-45, Feb. 18, 2014
SOUTH won 55-47, Jan. 21, 2014
NORTH won 72-35, Dec. 10, 2013
NORTH won 67-24, Jan. 22, 2013
NORTH won 43-36, Dec. 11, 2012
NORTH won 49-31, Jan. 3, 2012
NORTH won 58-39, Nov. 15, 2011
NORTH won 39-28, Jan. 4, 2011
SOUTH won 41-32, Nov. 30, 2010
SOUTH won 56-33, Feb. 2, 2010
SOUTH won 54-48, Dec. 5, 2009
NORTH won 51-49, Feb. 3, 2009
NORTH won 50-48, Dec. 19, 2008
SOUTH won 52-48, Feb. 11, 2008
SOUTH won 62-36, Jan. 11, 2008
SOUTH won 67-36, Nov. 27, 2007
NORTH won 48-43, Jan. 12, 2007
NORTH won 62-57, Nov. 28, 2006
SOUTH won 43-33, Nov. 25, 2005