Forsyth Central’s girls spent Tuesday night freeing up space on their calendar.
The Lady Bulldogs defeated South Forsyth 53-25 on senior night at the D.B. Carroll Complex and secured a first-round bye in the Region 7-AAAA tournament.
Central (17-7 overall, 9-5 region) cannot finish the regular season any lower than fifth in the region standings and could end up as high as third with a victory against Lambert on Friday.
The Lady Bulldogs have gone 3-0 over the past five days following a stretch in which they lost four out of five games.
“The win Saturday against Sequoyah ... and this one tonight has put us in that position where we want to be,” Central coach Andy Martin said. “I think right now we’re playing the best we’ve played all season and it’s going to take that [to beat] Lambert.”
Central’s victory Tuesday night completed a regular season sweep of rival South (5-18, 1-12). The Lady Bulldogs won the only other meeting 50-43 on Jan. 10 in the Eagles’ Nest.
Central had a much easier outing this time around against a South squad missing two starters for the majority of the game.
Lady War Eagles center Ashley Hannan sat on the bench in a walking boot, while leading scorer Kristie Mason started but exited early with an unspecified injury.
“We were real proud of where we were under the circumstances, especially in the first half, even though we were struggling scoring,” South coach Keith Gravitt said.
“Emma Kane played a great game for them. I didn’t feel like we defended their post game well at all. We let her get the ball anywhere she wanted it.”
Kane, a sophomore, led Central with a game-high 12 points to go along with 11 rebounds, providing the Lady Bulldogs with a third scorer to complement seniors Kayla Richards and Keeley Chester (10 points apiece). Rachel Myers also had 12 points for South.
“I just think in this [sport], when you have three that can score, you just make yourself really hard to guard,” Martin said.
“Emma stepped up big tonight. ... Caitlin Dabbs is playing great inside, another great defensive effort from her. That post presence makes us good.”
Central scored 10 unanswered points against South on three separate occasions, including a run that established a 14-5 lead in the first quarter.
The Lady Bulldogs led 20-12 entering the second quarter and held South to just 13 more points the rest of the game.
Both teams struggled to generate points in the second period, when Central outscored South 4-2. The score remained 20-12 until Kane hit a jumper off an assist from Chester at precisely the 4:00 mark.
The Lady War Eagles’ only points of the period came on a layup by Ally Welch with 1:08 remaining, cutting their deficit to 24-14 going into halftime.
“I think we took our foot off the gas a little bit,” Martin said. “That’s a bad habit to look up at the scoreboard.”
The second half started in similar fashion. South cut the lead to 24-16 early in the third quarter, and Central’s first points didn’t come until Kane hit a jumper at the 4:40 mark.
But Kane’s basket began a 10-0 run by the Lady Bulldogs that boosted the lead to 34-16. Central went on another 10-0 run early in the fourth quarter to cement the victory.
Chester had a hand in many of Central’s baskets in one way or another, racking up assists and forcing turnovers that turned into points throughout the game.
“Tonight she had a couple of transition baskets where she showed that pretty much when she wants to get it in there and get a look, she can,” Martin said. “We just need more of that from her and Kayla working inside for those tough baskets.”
Central closes out the regular season at 7 p.m. on Friday at Lambert, while South plays host to Johns Creek on Friday (6 p.m.) and Woodland on Saturday (4 p.m.).
The Lady Bulldogs will enter the region tournament in the second round on Feb. 14 at Cass High School in White. South will play in the first round Feb. 11 when teams seeded 6-11 are paired against one another.