South Forsyth’s girls’ basketball team had just one losing streak in the 2013-14 season, endured when Centennial handed them their second straight defeat on Feb. 1. The Lady War Eagles remember that stretch vividly, understanding both their own shortcomings and the challenge the Lady Knights present.
South used that experience to its advantage on Monday, taking down Centennial in the semifinals of the Region 6-AAAAAA tournament, 69-62, exacting revenge and advancing to the region championship.
“I’m just so happy for these girls and how hard they worked,” said South head coach Keith Gravitt. “Our girls took care of the ball when we had to. They didn’t give up on themselves out there … they stuck with the game plan and I’m real proud of them.”
Gravitt often preaches how important it is for his girls to start the game strong, and no one understands that better than sophomore guard Sarah Myers. She put up a whopping 25 points in the first 16 minutes of action, providing South with a commanding 34-21 lead heading into intermission. Myers had all but seven of South’s first half points and finished with 34.
“I just felt I had to come out for my team,” Myers said. “We had to start strong like we always say. The ball was just going in this time."
Centennial shrunk that deficit, though, as Myers fell off her pace and the Lady Knights' Jazmine Estwick and Brianna Perry netted 14 and 11 second half points, respectively.
The Lady Knights came within three points with 15.8 seconds left. They fouled South guard K.K. Storms with 13.9 on the clock, sending her to the free throw line.
With Centennial’s season hanging in the balance, Storms effectively sealed the victory for the Lady War Eagles by making both free throws.
“That was huge,” Myers said of Storms’ clutch foul shots. “K.K. went out there and did a great job. We all had confidence in her.”
Arguably the biggest key for South on Monday was its ability to dominate down low, despite being a relatively small group. The Lady War Eagles out-rebounded Centennial 40-16, with 12 of those boards corralled by Ally Welch. Additionally, Storms and Shelby Threlkeld had seven rebounds apiece.
Not only did South’s prowess in the paint stymie Centennial’s attack, it created a lot of second chance opportunities, as well — many of which were converted.
“Coach has been talking about that for a long time, that we really need to rebound,” said Myers. “We took that to heart and knew we had to rebound to get to the big game.”
Said Gravitt, “The girls were just greedy today.”
South will now battle for the Region 6-AAAAAA crown against the winner of West Forsyth/North Forsyth. Tip-off will be on Tuesday at 7 p.m.