When our sports staff made a list of the 10 best games of the 2014-15 school year involving Forsyth County high school teams, the wonderful problem of the exercise was its exclusivity.
When the baseball season alone produced almost 50 one-run games?
Or Forsyth County had three top 10 girls basketball teams at one point?
Or Lambert boys lacrosse played just about every significant boys lacrosse program in the state?
Yes, just 10. The limit was both necessary and grueling.
The competition and drama produced in Forsyth County athletics this past season was first-rate, so here are seven more top games from this past school year:
No. 1 vs. No. 2 regular season showdown
In the big picture, Lambert boys’ lacrosse’s game against Johns Creek wasn’t significant. The Longhorns won, creating a three-way tie for first place in Area 3-AAAAAA, but they ended up with a No. 3 seed in the state tournament and tough first round game at Pope (a 7-6 loss in overtime).
But, at that moment of the season, the anticipation for the game was sky-high. There’s a strong rivalry between the two schools despite not being in the same county because of their proximity and inclusion in Area 3-AAAAAA. Oh, and Lambert was ranked No. 1 in the state by Laxpower.com, Johns Creek was ranked No. 2.
And then the game lived up to the hype. Johns Creek led 4-1 in the first quarter, but Lambert came back. The game was 7-7 in the fourth quarter before Lambert reeled off to goals to lead 9-7 with 1:31 left. Johns Creek scored again to make it a one-goal game, but Lambert’s Trey Arnold won the ensuing faceoff to seal the win.
An early test that North Forsyth girls basketball finds a way to pass
How dare Sequoyah girls basketball come into Raider Arena and go up by 16 in the fourth quarter, try to take away North Forsyth’s Raider Classic title and end the Lady Raiders’ 26-game home-court winning streak.
No, Caroline Bowns and Lochlain Corliss were not having that. The North senior standouts combined for 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Lady Raiders turned that 16-point deficit into an eventual 56-53 victory to win a second straight Raider Classic and prolong its home-court winning streak, for a while at least …
West Forsyth ends North Forsyth girls basketball’s home winning streak
Indeed, by the time West came into Raider Arena on Jan. 15, North’s home-court winning streak was up to 31 games and counting. But Jenna Staiti and the Lady Wolverines put an end to the dominant streak.
It didn’t look like it early on. North was typical North in the first quarter: swarming defense producing a bevy of turnovers that led to transition baskets.
Then Staiti got going. The junior University of Maryland commit scored 35 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. The closest North got down the stretch was within six points, but West responded each time. The Lady Wolverines held Bowns and Corliss to 10 and seven points, respectively. The final score – West 49, North 36 – was the kind the Raiders faithful hadn’t witnessed since Dec. 14, 2012.
A no-hitter and walk-off in the same game
North Forsyth baseball had seen its share of no-hitters pitched in the program’s history. But had it ever seen a no-hitter and a walk-off hit in the same game? Doubt it.
Until March 30, when senior pitcher Caleb Dixon shut down Alpharetta over seven dominant innings, but he couldn’t claim the seventh no-hitter in school history until Matthew Heard drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning to give North a 1-0 victory.
The girls basketball state playoff upset no one saw coming
This game missed our top 10 list because we’re suckers for close, tense games. But Lambert’s 54-36 victory against Pope in the first round of the Class AAAAAA tournament was more noteworthy because of the sheer shock factor.
Pope came in as the Region 5-AAAAAA champion and the No. 1 seed. Lambert was the No. 4 seed. It entered the state tournament after a somewhat-embarrassing 49-19 loss in the region tournament consolation game. The Lady Longhorns did not seem like the kind of team to knock off a No. 1 seed.
But it all came together for Lambert. Pope got into early foul trouble, and the Lady Longhorns went 20-for-27 from the free throw line. Three players scored in double figures, and a young Lambert roster grew up in a hurry.
Central wrestling’s improbable tournament title win
The Bulldogs had not won a regular season tournament for, well, head coach Jeremiah Walker wasn’t even sure how long. No way were they going to win one without arguably their three top wrestlers. Right?
Wrong. No Knight Bankston, no Carson Pillow, no Caleb Troutt, and still Central managed a 33-30 victory against Dacula in the Hiram New Year’s Duals championship thanks to a win by Josh Kalue at 182 pounds. Two months before, Kalue had not even wrestled before.
Dakota Chalmers vs. Lambert baseball
One of the big questions entering the high school baseball season was when North Forsyth’s new senior ace, Dakota Chalmers, would face Lambert, the defending Class AAAAAA champion and preseason No. 1 team in the country.
Well, March 11 came, and local fans got their wish. And they weren’t disappointed. Chalmers and Lambert star Seth Beer dueled on the mound, but Chalmers had the edge – on the mound and at the plate. He allowed just one run over seven innings and hit the decisive two-run home run off Beer to lift North to a 2-1 victory.
Really, that was just the beginning of a wild, wonderful baseball season in Forsyth County, the perfect punctuation to a thrilling season of high school sports.
Brian Paglia is sports editor at the Forsyth County News. He can be reached at 770-205-8976, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @BrianPaglia.