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Basketball: South boys can't overcome slow start in region championship loss to Milton
Devin McGlockton
South Forsyth junior Devin McGlockton eyes a shot at the rim against Milton on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. - photo by David Almeda

South Forsyth’s run through the Region 5-7A boys basketball tournament came to an end without a title Friday night, with the War Eagles falling to defending champion Milton, 61-54.

The War Eagles will still host a home playoff game, as they came away with the region’s No. 2 seed.

“They’re just really good,” South boys head coach Scott Givens said. “We just needed to be better offensively. I was telling the guys that if you looked at our season and all our success with the wins that we've had, when we get to 65, we're dang near perfect win-loss wise. We got to 54 and it wasn't enough. You've got to score the ball against them.”

Milton shot well to begin the game, connecting on three-straight 3-pointers to start the first quarter with a 9-0 run. South big man Devin McGockton responded with two buckets of his own to narrow the lead to 9-4, and despite some early turnovers by Milton, South wasn’t able to take advantage, only scoring nine points in the first quarter.

“We got off to a terrible start, and that's been a problem the last two games (and) in some of the games we've played this year,” Givens said. “They're too good, man. When you're behind the eight-ball like that, it's tough.”

“We talked about it — we needed to get a fast start tonight.”

McGlockton electrified the crowd with a dunk with 2:17 left in the opening quarter, but with another three by Milton, South trailed 19-9 entering the second.

South wasn’t consistent with its shots early, but in the second, the War Eagles began to find a little bit of a rhythm. Trailing by 10 with 5:43 left in the first half, Ethan Underwood connected from behind the arc, and after two more buckets from McGlockton, the War Eagles were keeping pace, down 28-20. By the break, though, Milton had upped its lead back to 10 at 32-22.

Kohl Harris
South Forsyth junior Khol Harris dribbles the ball with a Milton defender guarding him on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020. - photo by David Almeda
Region 5-7A Player of the Year Bruce Thornton started Milton’s second half with another 3-pointer, but South continued to keep the Eagles’ lead at 10, which set up a comeback bid in the game’s final period.

Outside threat Ethan Underwood was held to just nine points Friday, but in the fourth, his last of three 3-pointers narrowed the Milton lead to 46-40 with 4:34 to play.

With the help of made free throws from Khol Harris in the final quarter, South created its best chance to come away with a victory in the final minute with Milton leading by five with 37 seconds left. However, Milton was able to make almost all its free throw chances to negate South’s attempt to overcome its slow start, securing another region title.

McGlockton led the War Eagles with 23 points, while Harris and Nate Hammond had 10 and eight, respectively.

Despite the loss, Givens sees the way his team came down to the wire with one of the best teams in Class 7A as a confidence booster heading into the state playoffs. The War Eagles’ first-round game next week against Parkview will be the first time that South has hosted a home playoff game in the GHSA’s current format, which goes back nearly two decades.

“That's an accomplishment,” Givens said. “Our program is making strides from a boys standpoint. We've made great progression in our program. We've overcome a lot of hurdles this year but we ain't done.