South Forsyth’s full-court pressure was too much for Forsyth Central.
The Lady War Eagles forced 25 turnovers in the first half en route to a 55-22 victory over Central in the War Eagle Classic on Monday at South.
The win marked the first time South had beaten Central since Feb. 1, 2008.
"Our players played hard, that’s all there is to it," South head coach Keith Gravitt said. "Central is a great program, but when there’s rivalries ... maybe there’s a little bit extra [motivation] in there.
"There [are] some freshman on team that have come in and contributed early for the program, but the seniors and other players were hungry to turn things around; they set some expectations [for the season]. When you’re able to add some players that want to play hard, it gets everybody motivated."
Neither team could find its groove early, as both squads combined to go 3-for-24 from the field during a first quarter that finished with the Lady War Eagles ahead 6-3.
South’s offense found its stroke after forcing Central (0-1) into 13 second-quarter turnovers, many of which turned into easy scoring opportunities.
Freshman Sarah Myers, who finished the game with 18 points, drained three 3-pointers, as South (1-0) went on a 13-2 run midway through the quarter and took a commanding 24-10 lead into halftime.
Central is trying to establish a new primary ballhandler for the first time since the 2008-09 season after losing point guard Keeley Chester, a three-year starter, to graduation in the spring.
"Early on we were wide-eyed," Central head coach Andy Martin said.
"I don’t want to make any excuses, but we didn’t scrimmage [anyone this season]. That’s the first time we’ve stepped on the floor against anybody pressuring us except [ourselves in practice] and we didn’t handle it in the first five minutes.
"Coach Gravitt, hats off to him, he’s got a good looking team this year with a lot of pieces and when … things started going their way, they did what good teams do and started [a snowball effect.] Unfortunately, we just didn’t stop the bleeding early and find someone that could step up and handle the pressure."
The defensive pressure allowed the Lady Bulldogs to score just four points in the third quarter, two of which came from the free-throw line, while South had no trouble finding the goal. The Lady War Eagles shot 40 percent from the field to boost their lead to 38-14 at the end of the third quarter.
Six different Lady War Eagles scored in the final quarter, as they finished the game on a 17-8 run.
Monday’s defensive effort was a positive sign for the Lady War Eagles, who gave up 50 points or more in 11 of their final 13 games of the 2011-12 season. South finished 6-20 last season but lost only two seniors from that squad.
"Every win is a big win," Gravitt said. "Getting started off on the right foot is important, but this isn’t the region championship. ... There’s lots of improvement that can be made and the girls understand that."
Central’s Emma Kane led the Lady Bulldogs with nine points, while South’s Ashley Hannan also contributed nine.