Forsyth Central’s and West Forsyth’s boys basketball teams ran out of their locker rooms on Friday night, into the kind of place that’s hardly seen around the high school basketball landscape anymore.
It was Central’s annual Domecoming game, the one game a year where the Bulldogs play in their old home, a smaller, hotter, more intimate domed arena from a different era, with wooden bleachers and acoustics that make everything quite a bit louder.
Regardless of who they were cheering for, everyone from the rowdy student sections to parents in attendance certainly got their money’s worth. The Bulldogs played the Wolverines tough for the vast majority of the game, but in the end, Central wasn’t able to make enough plays in the fourth quarter, leading to a 62-54 West victory.
“It was a great atmosphere,” West Forsyth head coach Fredrick Hurt said. “It’s the second time we’ve got to play in the dome ... It takes you back the old days of what high school basketball was like with a hot gym and sweats everywhere and the students are into it. It’s a great atmosphere. We were happy to be here.”
Jake Craft paced the Bulldogs throughout the game, finishing his night with 20 points and four 3-pointers. In the first quarter, his two shots from behind the arc, followed by a steal and a layup, helped Central take an early 8-6 lead. Nick Zabetakis answered with a three of his own for West, but Craft kept his team in it early.
A three from West senior Jack Bock put Central behind 17-15 at the end of the first quarter, but in the second, the Bulldogs’ hot shooting continued. Central took the lead early in the period, and after a deep Craft three, his team led 24-19 with 5:55 left in the first half. West tied the game at 26-26 with 4:24 left, but another Craft three from the corner as he fell put Central ahead once again. When the halftime buzzer sounded, the Bulldogs held a 36-32 edge.
“Jake Craft shot the lights out,” Central head coach Brandon Hutchins said. “We can shoot it when we feel it, and that’s our strength.”
Unfortunately for Central, its biggest strength didn’t shine through late. Both teams stayed relatively close in the third, with Central entering the fourth up by three. But it was in the final period that the Bulldogs’ shots began to miss.
Joseph Staiti, who ended his night with 23 points for West, gave his team a 47-46 lead, and after a Zabetakis three, West had a 9-0 run to start the fourth.
From there, all West had to do was hit its free throws. They did so, going 12 for 12 in the final frame.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t make some plays down the stretch,” Hutchins said. “We’re still learning. It’s still early, and I think we showed tonight that we can compete with probably one of the best teams in the region.”
For West, the win puts them at 2-0 in Region 5-7A, very much in the mix for the top spot. Central might be a program still trying to find itself, but in front of an electric crowd on the road, the Wolverines didn’t take anything for granted.
“We didn’t expect tonight to be easy,” Hurt said. “I said it way back when that Central scares me as much as anybody. They’ve got so many guys that can put it on the floor, so many guys that can shoot it. I’m glad we won this one.”