Kevin Sullivan had never made a bigger shot.
With South Forsyth down by one point with under 30 seconds left in the game, the War Eagles worked the ball around the perimeter and then inside to the post where it was immediately passed out to an open Sullivan.
He squared up for a 3-pointer on the right wing and swished it through to give South a two-point lead with 12.2 seconds remaining as the crowd went wild. Sullivan’s shot proved to be the final points of the game, as the War Eagles held on to defeat Johns Creek 48-46 on senior night Friday at the Eagles’ Nest.
"I had to make it; [the team] would get mad at me if I didn’t," said Sullivan with a grin. "This was the biggest [shot I’ve made].
"This win means a lot. It’s big for us going into the region [tournament]."
Sullivan finished the game with six points, while teammate Douglas Cotter scored a team-high 13 points. Johns Creek’s Malik Avery led all scorers with 16 points and Ryan Lewis added 14.
"They’ve been fighting all year," South head coach Manson Hill said. "... Our seniors never quit and we continue to get better every game and that’s all you really can ask from your team. They gave a great effort tonight."
South led 12-10 at the end of the first quarter, but Johns Creek pulled ahead in the second period to take a 22-21 lead at halftime.
The War Eagles (3-11 Region 6-AAAAAA) tied the game at 27 apiece midway through the third quarter and extended the advantage to 32-27 with 2:47 left in the period. Neither team could find its stroke to close out the quarter, but South took a 34-29 lead.
Johns Creek (8-16, 3-10) trailed 39-31 two minutes into the fourth quarter, but went on a 10-4 run to close the gap to within two with 3:40 left on the clock.
The Gladiators trimmed the deficit to one with 1:58 to play and quieted the crowd with a go-ahead and-one from Lewis that gave them their first lead in the second half and a 46-45 advantage with 28.5 seconds to play.
Following Sullivan’s 3-pointer that put South ahead by two, the Gladiators never could get the ball past half court. South forced a jump ball and then knocked the ball out of bounds with 0.9 seconds left, forcing Johns Creek into a desperation shot that never came close.
"The only month we didn’t improve was December," Hill said. "I thought we were the most improved team in November and we took a big step back in December. … In January we [were] close to being one of the most improved teams [and] in February we want to be one of the most improved teams. So, are we peaking at the right time? Yes."
South Forsyth (girls) 47, Johns Creek 38
A freshman made the biggest impact on senior night.
Sarah Myers scored 11 of her game-high 20 points in the first quarter to help propel South Forsyth’s girls to a 47-38 victory over Johns Creek on Friday at the Eagles’ Nest.
"I wanted to make sure the seniors really got that win," Myers said. "We needed to start out strong against [Johns Creek] and really get our momentum going.
"With our girls getting healthy again after a couple of injuries, I’m glad we got [the win] and we’re going to come out strong [in the region tournament] and play together as a team."
The Lady War Eagles (18-7, 8-6 Region 6-AAAAAA) came out strong in the first quarter and finished the period on an 11-2 run to claim a 20-6 lead.
South couldn’t sustain its first quarter energy, but still took a 26-15 advantage into halftime. The Lady War Eagles took a 17-point lead midway through the third quarter and finished ahead 35-23.
Johns Creek (7-15, 1-12) responded with an 8-0 run to start the final quarter that cut the lead to 35-31 and forced South to call a timeout with 4:33 left.
The Lady Gladiators trimmed the score again to 37-35 with three minutes left and called a timeout after a made shot.
But, the stoppage only benefited the Lady War Eagles, as they closed the game on a 10-3 run to sweep the season series with Johns Creek.
"The girls came out focused with a lot of energy," South head coach Keith Gravitt said. "Johns Creek didn’t give up and played extremely hard. We got some people playing a lot of minutes, and you got to be ready for that [as a coach in the fourth quarter]. But, we got a great team win [and] a lot of people were involved."
The Lady War Eagles played solid defense for much of the game and held Johns Creek to a stingy 28 percent shooting from the field. The Lady Gladiators’ leading scorer, Rayven Brown, was held to only eight points.
"I think our girls are ready for [the region tournament]," Gravitt said. "We’re trying to get everybody [healthy] and mentally ready. The game’s more mental now than it is physical."