Haylee Dornan focused on the details.
With West Forsyth girls basketball trailing, 37-35, and the final seconds of the game ticking away, Dornan caught a pass near the top of the key. She would be the last Wolverines player to touch the ball. Whether West won or lost was in her hands.
Dornan thought only of the clock and her objective as she heaved the ball in the air.
As it arced toward the hoop, the freshman guard wasn’t optimistic.
“I did not think it was going in, because I didn’t think I got a good shot. I just kind of threw it up,” Dornan said. “It was getting close, and I was like, Maybe? I don’t know.”
It went in, the buzzer sounded and Dornan and teammates leaped back to the bench in jubilation with a 38-37 victory against Forsyth Central in a Region 5-7A game at home.
“I did it, and I was like, ‘Whoa, that just happened,’” Dornan said.
West had every right to celebrate. The Wolverines have made the state playoffs four straight seasons and are just two years removed from their memorable state semifinals appearance. But these days are different, for West entered Tuesday’s game on a 10-game losing streak and winless in region play.
Early on, little appeared to change Tuesday. The teams went into halftime tied 15-15, and Central (7-10, 0-3) started to pull away between the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth. The Wolverines trailed by seven early in the fourth quarter and by 36-30 with 58.9 seconds left. The streak seemed likely to continue when Carson Cloud stepped to the free throw line with the Bulldogs ahead 37-35 and 17.4 seconds left.
But Cloud missed both, and even though Central's Gina Fishler rebounded the second miss, she was called for a travel, giving West one last shot. West head coach David May wanted that shot to go to senior Nicole Toole, but she instead reversed the ball out of the right corner where it ended up in Dornan’s hands.
Which, actually, was just fine with May.
“We told her, ‘Be aggressive, be aggressive,’ because she can shoot, but she’s got to be ready to go and have confidence in herself,” May said. “Hopefully, that’ll get that going. She did a nice job of stepping up and knocking it down.”
Toole led West (3-13, 1-2) with 14 points, while Dornan finished with 11 points, including the team’s last six down the stretch.
West Forsyth boys 71, Forsyth Central 65
Every time West Forsyth tried to build a comfortable lead Tuesday, Forsyth Central roared back.
Until Michael Zabetakis came alive.
Quiet for much of the game, the senior wing seven points during an 11-2 run in the fourth quarter for the last bit of cushion the Wolverines (7-9, 2-1) needed to earn a Region 5-7A win at home.
Zabetakis finished with 13 points, as did Mikhari Sibblis, though it was freshman guard Broc Bidwell who led the way with 21 points. Terrence Taylor added 11 points.
Dominic Patterson led Central (4-12, 0-3) with 20 points, while Anthony Roveto added 13 points.