Isaiah Magee stepped on a teammate’s foot at South Forsyth boys basketball practice Thursday and rolled his ankle, which wasn’t an ideal development the day before the War Eagles’ Region 5-7A opener at Forsyth Central, a game South lost last season.
But Magee said he’s played meaningful basketball games with a tender ankle before, so he relied on the best remedy available before Friday’s meeting: tape and adrenaline.
The tape made it feel better.
Well, sort of.
“It was alright,” Magee said. “And then the adrenaline kicked in.”
There was plenty of that available for Magee in South’s 47-44 victory against Central. The War Eagles, who led by eight with 1 minutes 29 seconds left, weathered missed free throws with stingy-enough defense, but South did not exhale until Kevin Neubrecht’s 3-pointer near the top of the key bounced off the front of the rim at the buzzer.
“I knew it was going to be a grind,” South head coach Scott Givens said. “Every time you play a Greg Dirst team it’s just a grind. They’re very well-coached. Their kids are hard-nosed; they’re very tough.”
Central was certainly tougher than their 1-6 record entering the game might have suggested. The Bulldogs led 12-10 after the first quarter and 26-24 with less than 3 minutes left in the third quarter. Dominic Patterson and Anthony Roveto, the team’s most reliable scorers, were held to nine and six points, respectively, but senior guard Perry Ender stepped up with 14 points, including 11 in the second half.
Magee sparked South (4-5, 1-0). He made a deep 3 to give the War Eagles a 27-26 lead, then another, his fifth and final one, to give South its largest lead of the game, 38-29 in the fourth quarter.
Central whittled South’s 44-36 lead with 1:29 left in the game down to 46-44 with 7.6 seconds remaining. South missed five straight free throws along the way. Magee made one, though, with 5.6 seconds left, forcing Central to need a 3-pointer to extend the game.
“The difference between three and two is huge,” Givens said.
Magee finished with 20 points.
“I was feeling it,” Magee said.
“Isaiah Magee played excellent,” Givens said.
South Forsyth girls 50, Forsyth Central 42
The War Eagles got an indication of the physical contest ahead less than six minutes into their region-opener. South senior Sara Idris stole the ball and took it herself all the way to the other end. Idris went up for a layup but was fouled hard. As she walked to the free throw line for her two shots, Idris grimaced as she stretched out her right shoulder. Things looked worse on the other end: top reserve Ryane Williams was down, clutching her ankle.
Maybe no one had it quite as rough as South senior forward Zoe Maisel, and yet she finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds.
“One thing I think we saw tonight is how people are going to play her; they’re going to be physical with her,” Gravitt said. “What she showed is she doesn’t quit working.”
Maisel was the only consistent source of scoring for South (6-3, 1-0) in the first half, which saw the War Eagles struggle to hit open shots and get in foul trouble. Central, a team that went 1-25 last season, displayed markedly improved acumen and poise and led 20-19 at halftime.
South’s defensive intensity proved more fruitful in the second half, helping the War Eagles begin the third quarter on a 12-1 run, and Olivia Woodson began to hit shots from outside, helping to ease the defensive pressure on Maisel and Idris down low. Woodson finished with 15 points on five 3-pointers, while Idris added nine.
Tesa Ajorbjor led Central (4-4, 0-1) with 14 points, while Morgan Day added 10 points.