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Basketball: No. 7 South Forsyth smothers Denmark, remains perfect in region
South Forsyth junior Sharon Tolliver shoots over Denmark junior Katie Counter during Tuesday's 66-57 victory. - photo by David Roberts

The best way to keep your opponent from scoring? Don't let them past halfcourt.

South Forsyth turned up the heat defensively against Denmark on Tuesday, forcing a couple dozen deflections and creating turnovers during a 66-57 victory.

In all, the War Eagles deflected 24 passes in the win.

"Well, defense starts our offense," South head coach Keith Gravitt said. "We know that, and we own that. We know that if we can't do that, then it's going to be a grind and there are certain places where we're going to have to make up the difference. It starts on defense, and they made that happen out there on the court. They understand that and know that creates high-percentage shots when they're able to create their offense off their defense."

South led by 13 points at halftime and held the Danes to just three made field goals in the third quarter to make it 57-38 heading into the fourth quarter.

Defensively, Maggie Thompson led the War Eagles with seven steals, while Clara Morris added five. Ava McGlockton blocked seven shots and had two steals of her own. 

"We talked about that as we came out of the locker room," Gravitt said. "We felt like we had some advantages that we were utilizing well as the half ended with Ava. Clara just played great on the boards. We had four kids in double digits, and deflections as well. Ava and Clara, between the two of them I think they had about 15 deflections, in addition to the rebounds they had."

Denmark cut the deficit to seven points late in the second quarter off a Sophie Smith 3-pointer, but South answered with back-to-back three-point plays by Tolliver. The first came on a 3-pointer, then Tolliver was fouled on a desperation 3-point attempt with less than two seconds remaining.

Tolliver sank all three and finished with 12 points. Thompson and McGlockton led the team with 16 points each, while Morris finished with a double-double [10 points, 10 rebounds]. 

Morris also played exceptional defense during South's third-quarter barrage. 

"Clara did a great job defensively right there," Gravitt said. "We were able to keep the ball out of some of their scorers' hands during that time. Our players played smart and saw that. We were trying to guide that, but I don't want to take anything away from these girls. They played hard, they're a smart group, they've played together for quite a while, and they saw those things and knew they could feed off of it."

Smith caught fire for the Danes in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 of her game-high 31 points in the final frame.

She drained two straight 3-pointers to make it 60-46 with 5:25 left, triggering a timeout. 

Another 3-pointer and a bucket trimmed South's lead to 62-51, but Thompson was solid at the free-throw line, going 4-for-4 in the fourth quarter and adding a jumper on the last possession of the game for good measure.

South [8-2, 4-0 Region 6-7A] will host Johns Creek at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 21, while Denmark [6-2, 2-1 Region 6-7A] is back in action at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at home against Marist.