When South Forsyth boys basketball head coach Scott Givens was talking with Lambert coach Scott Bracco at a middle school game on Thursday, Bracco brought up the fact that a War Eagle win on Friday would be a big help to the Longhorns.
If South were to beat West, it would clear up a potential three-way tie at the top of the Region 5-7A standings and give the Longhorns the top seed in the region tournament, provided they could dispatch Forsyth Central. Lambert and Milton both finished 8-2 in the region, but the Longhorns beat the Eagles in both matchups.
So, yes, the War Eagles did end up doing their county archrivals a solid on Friday. But that consequence of the 72-62 win over the Wolverines was far outweighed by its overall significance for South: as the payoff of an offseason point of emphasis, and as evidence that the War Eagles won’t necessarily be an easy out in the region tourney.
“We played like we were capable of tonight,” Givens said. “We were due.”
The War Eagles, who had lost 69-50 to the Wolverines in their first matchup of the season, made it seem questionable that that game even happened. They took their first lead a bit over two minutes into the first quarter and held it the rest of the way, expanding the advantage to as much as 15 early in the fourth quarter.
The overall point total was a bit higher than the War Eagles typically aim for, but West’s quick pace and hot shooting nights from players like Joel Brown, who had five threes, inspired South to keep going.
Givens had hoped that the team’s extra work on shooting before the season would result in nights like Friday, even if some of the shots, off-balance or too early in a possession, weren’t to his preference.
That wasn’t the only thing South did well. Players like Santhosh Saravanan and Isaiah Magee, who each had 18 points, got to the rack and the free throw line, and the War Eagles (9-16, 4-6 Region 5-7A) were 20-for-31 from the stripe. They also consistently broke West’s press and kept pace in rebounding, even with the Wolverines’ (14-11, 7-3) size advantage at the guard spot.
“We were breaking their press, and we were scoring out of it faster than we usually do,” Magee said. “We were scoring more than they were, so we just kept trying to keep it going at that pace.”
The Wolverines are the No. 3 seed in the region tournament, and they’ll face North. South is the No. 4 seed and will face Forsyth Central for a chance to get a hack at Lambert, who the War Eagles lost to by four points back in early January.
If South has demonstrated the capability to keep with teams like West and Lambert, though, it’s also shown the capacity to lose to Central, which it did in a 49-48 slog on Jan. 20.
“We’ve had two grinders with them,” Givens said. “Two meat grinders, man.”
South Forsyth girls 55, West Forsyth 20
The War Eagles’ No. 3 seed in the region tournament had already been determined before Friday night, but they still put in a dominant showing on Friday against West, leading by 39-3 at one point.
South was led by two of their seniors, with Zoe Maisel scoring 20 points and Sara Idris dropping 12.