If ever there was a question of how much Sarah Myers meant to South Forsyth girls basketball, Wednesday was the answer.
Without the Lady War Eagles’ injured star guard, South lacked the same firepower on offense it had all season in a 49-41 loss to Chattahoochee in the quarterfinals of the Region 6-AAAAAA Tournament at Lambert High School.
South’s loss in the tournament’s final game Wednesday night was the most stunning development of a disappointing night for county high school girls’ basketball. A year ago, Forsyth County teams swept all four state playoff spots in 6-AAAAAA. South’s loss, coupled with those earlier in the day by North Forsyth and Lambert, means only West Forsyth, a 44-36 winner against Habersham Central, will represent the county this season.
“Chattahoochee just played a great game,” South head coach Keith Gravitt said. “They had confidence in their shots going in, and they did. We talked to our girls about responding, and I think we responded, but there were just too many times [Chattahoochee was] too on.”
Lady War Eagles senior KK Storms had a game-high 18 points, including 10 in South’s fourth-quarter comeback attempt. Mari Jonassen had nine points, and Emily Dreslinski added eight.
South figured to be more vulnerable without Myers. The senior University of Maryland signee has been the program’s linchpin ever since her sophomore season when she helped lead the Lady War Eagles to wins against a gauntlet of Gwinnett County powerhouse teams and reached the semifinals of the 2014 state tournament. But an ankle injury in South’s regular season finale loss to North on Feb. 5 relegated Myers to the bench Wednesday where she watched with her leg in a boot and hobbled on crutches to the team huddle during timeouts.
South struggled from the start to make up for the loss. A team that came in averaging 60.9 points a game managed just six points in the first quarter and went into halftime tied 16-16 with Chattahoochee.
Chattahoochee made its move in the third quarter. Gravitt called a timeout after the Lady Cougars went up 25-18 with 4:02 left on a Siena Gore (14 points) layup. Chattahoochee scored seven straight points to end the third quarter and take a 34-22 lead.
Charity Starkes gave Chattahoochee its largest lead of the game when she hit consecutive three-pointers from the corner to put the Lady Cougars up 42-29 midway in the fourth quarter.
South’s comeback began soon after. Olivia Poff hit two free throws to cut Chattahoochee’s lead to single digits with 1:43 left. Storms made two free throws. When Dreslinski made a transition layup to get within 46-41 with 54.4 seconds left, Gravitt called timeout to set up South’s defense. Here was a chance.
Instead, the Lady War Eagles never scored again, bringing an unexpected end to the remarkable high school careers of Myers and Storms.
“Couldn’t be prouder of our two seniors and what they’ve meant to our program,” Gravitt said. “I think they’ve won 90 games over their four years which is a school record. There are a significant number of records that have been set during these two seniors’ career at South.”