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Basketball: South girls adapt to new style but winning remains
South Forsyth senior forwards Sara Idris, left, and Zoe Maisel were the War Eagles’ only returning starters this season. - photo by Ben Hendren

South Forsyth girls basketball emerged as a state contender on the strength of its guards, as most programs do. Sarah Myers and KK Storms came in as freshman in 2012 and injected the War Eagles with a extreme dose of leadership, moxie and skill. They left having never won fewer than 20 games in a season, a region title and a state semifinal appearance. 

But South is maintaining its status as a state playoff contender this season on the strength of its post players. The War Eagles’ greatest source of leadership, moxie and skill now come from senior forwards Zoe Maisel and Sara Idris, and they have led the team to a 13-8 record at press time, including 4-2 in Region 5-7A, good for second.

“Even though there may be changes in some of the personnel, they set high expectations for themselves,” South head coach Keith Gravitt said. “They’re willing to change what we do in order to be successful.”

This season has been the culmination of South’s transition from its guard-oriented model with Myers and Storms to its current version. That process started last season after Myers and Storms graduated and Maisel and Idris took on more prominent roles as juniors. Maisel averaged a team-high 14.2 points a game and was named second-team all-county, while Idris averaged 7.1 points and was honorable mention all-county.

But the War Eagles still had veteran guards in seniors Emily Dreslinski and Mari Jonassen, leaders who had contributed to South’s success with Myers and Storms, and so South did its best to strike a balance with Dreslinski and Jonassen’s experience and Maisel and Idris’s clear potential. 

“At times, we kind of had a little confusion, had to figures things out,” Maisel said.

Still, the team went 18-10 and reached the state playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. Maisel and Idris are the clear leaders now, a role the post duo has never experienced in their basketball careers. 

Of course, they had Myers and Storms and Dreslinski and Jonassen to learn from, and from them Maisel said they learned the value in remaining positive during frustrating moments while leading by example at all times.

“We’re leading the team from the post,” Maisel said, “which is unique to most teams.”

South’s guards are now the ones learning on the fly. Sophomores Ryane Williams and Ashley Breindl and junior Olivia Woodson are all first-year starters. 

“I feel like they’re coming along well,” Maisel said. “They’re starting to finally be more aggressive and score more, which we need.”

South feels it has more room for growth. The team has focused on handling full-court pressure on offense, cutting down on turnovers and finding ways to adjust its offense to other teams’ defenses. 

One thing hasn’t changed since Myers and Storms left: Maisel, Idris and the rest of the War Eagles inherited their competitiveness.

“I believe in these girls,” Gravitt said, “and they believe in themselves.”