Ethan Underwood knew entering Friday's game that he was within reach of a significant milestone.
Only a few more points and he would reach 1,000 career points.
With less than a minute remaining in the game, with the score tied, Underwood put his back to the basket, pivoted 180 degrees and delivered a fadeaway jump shot that both helped seal South Forsyth's 40-37 win against North Forsyth and landed the War Eagles' senior guard in the 1,000-point club.
"They scored a bucket, so I knew we had to get a good possession," Underwood said. "I kept looking over to see if we were going to run a play, and 10 seconds in, he tells me to just take them. When I went to do that fadeaway, it was a little deeper than I wanted to, but it went in."
FINAL: South Forsyth 40, North Forsyth 37. Ethan Underwood knocks down this jumper to give South the lead with 30 seconds remaining. Underwood also scored his 1,000th career point in the win. pic.twitter.com/U2xSCT8zcY— David Roberts (@FCNDavidRoberts) January 15, 2022
Underwood's shot made it 37-35 with 33 seconds left, then he sank a pair of free throws to push the advantage to four points with 14.8 seconds remaining.
Will Sokol needed just seven seconds to sprint to the basket and finish at the rim to make it a one-possession game.
North immediately fouled, sending Underwood to the line. Underwood knocked down the first shot but missed the second, allowing Aidan Kudlas to corral the rebound and find Sokol up the court for a reasonable desperation 3-point attempt.
But the shot fell about an inch short and bounced off the iron as the buzzer rang.
"It is what it is. It was a grind-it-out game," South head coach Scott Givens said. "We've played a lot of games in the 40s this year. Last time we won a game scoring just 40? It's been a while. We've scored in the mid-40s this year a couple times and won. We've just got to find ways."
Underwood finished with a game-high 19 points, and his first 3-pointer sparked an 8-0 run in the first quarter. Teddy Toth added one of his own to make it 10-4 late in the opening stanza.
South shot the ball well from the perimeter in the first half -- Toth and Underwood each had two 3-pointers -- but found limited success in the post thanks to North's 6-foot-8 center Cole Kirouac.
Kirouac had 10 points and four rebounds before halftime, including a two-handed jam off an assist from Riley Smith that trimmed the War Eagles' lead to 19-18 with 2:11 left in the second quarter.
"I think Coach [David] Sokol and that group are really going," Givens said. "They've come a long way. Anybody can beat anybody in this region. This region is wide open. Now, West is the favorite and they should be, but [North] has played us to a three-point game here, they've played West to a two-point game here, they played Lambert really tough. They're close, and they've got a lot of good, young players."
South led 24-20 at halftime after Underwood's second 3-pointer of the half.
South scored the first six points of the third quarter, but the Raiders responded with a 9-0 run that featured a couple of impressive plays by Kudlas. The first was a putback at the basket, then on the other side of the court, Kudlas saved a ball from going out of bounds, flipping it behind his back to Kirouac, who found Brayden Turner for the 3-point shot.
Another Kudlas layup cut South's lead to 30-29 with 2:45 left in the third quarter, but a technical foul on Braden Mullis sent Underwood to the free-throw line, where he knocked down both shots, and gave the War Eagles possession.
The two teams combined for just 14 fourth-quarter points, with South locking down North on defense.
"I'll say this and I'll continue to say this: We have the best guard in the region, and he took us home tonight," Givens said. "That shot to give us the two-point lead, and he made free throws. They're trying to keep him from getting the ball. He steadies us, and he's done that for four years."
Underwood joins an exclusive list of South players who have eclipsed the 1,000-point mark.
"It means a lot," Underwood said. "I haven't really thought about it, but now that I've hit in, I'm blessed to be in a category with great players like Devin [McGlockton] and Evan Cole and the past players who have scored 1,000. It's a really great moment."
South [10-9, 4-2 Region 6-7A] is back in action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at home against Lambert, while North [8-10, 2-4 Region 6-7A] will travel to Alpharetta at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.