By MacKenzie Bates
For the Forsyth News
The saying, “It’s hard to beat a team three times” rings true for South Forsyth’s girls basketball team.
The War Eagles lost twice to Lambert during the regular season – a 50-48 decision on Jan. 12 and a 51-41 setback just last week.
During the semifinals of the Region 5-7A tournament, South avoided the sweep by defeating Lambert 55-43 on Wednesday night, advancing to Friday night’s championship game at 7 against North Forsyth.
“I have a special group of young ladies,” South head coach Keith Gravitt said while holding back tears of joy. “I can’t say enough about their determination and how much they wanted it.”
South (16-10) used combination of defense and stellar free throw shooting in the second half to separate itself from its rival. The War Eagles went 14-of-19 from the free throw line, including 9-of-11 in the fourth quarter. Zoe Maisel’s charity toss midway through the fourth quarter broke a 39-all tie to give South the lead for good.
“It came up to me that I had the opportunity to give us the lead,” Maisel, who scored a team-high 14 points said. “I knew our whole team was feeling confident and that gave us an edge to finish the game.”
Lambert (16-9) had trouble against South’s defensive pressure, missing nine straight shots in the second quarter and turning the ball over in the second half is something coach Jaime Fisher hopes to correct before next week’s state playoffs matchup.
“South played great,” Fisher said. “They took advantage of our mistakes. We had a hard time making baskets, and that is a credit to their defense.”
“They outplayed us tonight.”
Summer Edwards led the way for Lambert with 14 points. Skylar Aledia chipped in with 13 points.
Maisel, along with Ashley Breindl scoring 10 points and making several defensive plays and Ryane Williams making critical shots in the second half, put South in a position to play for the program’s second region title in four seasons.
“It means a lot,” Gravitt said of possibly winning a region title. “When you start your season off with that goal in mind, our team hasn’t been deterred. It would mean so much to me because it would mean so much to them.”