By Matt Green
For the Forsyth County News
LILBURN – Berkmar had made it to at least the second round of the state tournament in each of the past seven seasons. And on Saturday night they made it eight straight with a 69-51 win over South Forsyth.
“I thought our kids really competed,” South head coach Scott Givens said. “This is a tough place to come over to play a first round game. There’s a reason they’ve been a top-5, top-10 team in 7A all year long.”
Evan Cole came out of the gates ready to play in this game, scoring 12 of South’s 14 points in the first quarter. He finished the game with 26 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds.
“I knew everything was on the line,” Cole said. “I put everything on the court. I knew if we lost but I played my heart out, I’d feel better.”
“I’m super proud of Evan Cole,” Givens said. “I think he’s the best player that’s ever come through South, and he represented tonight. I had no doubt he was gonna play big tonight and he played big tonight. I’ve been very fortunate to coach him and see his development for four years as an assistant and now the head coach.”
South (11-18) had no answer for the backcourt of Berkmar (21-7). Zach Cooks scored 27 points for the Patriots, while Indiana-commit, Al Durham had 17.
“I thought we kinda had [Durham] off-balanced for the first three quarters,” Givens said. “But you know, he’s a D-1 player and he scored big in the fourth quarter. But the main guy was Cooks. He was outstanding.”
After leading by 12 at halftime, Berkmar extended the lead to 18, but South battled back and closed the third quarter with an 11-2 run to make the score 50-41 going into the fourth.
But that was the closest the War Eagles got.
The Patriots opened the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run, including nine straight points from Durham. They outscored South 19-10 in the final quarter.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Givens said. “We’re a lot better than our record. We’ve played so many close games this year and going forward that’s something we gotta get better at.”
This season marks the second straight year the War Eagles have made the state tournament.
“My four years at South had some ups and downs,” Cole said. “But the last two years we really stepped up as a team and I’m proud of what we accomplished.”