The West Forsyth boys basketball team was able to withstand a raucous crowd and a hyped-up Forsyth Central team for a 63-49 win at the Dome to take sole possession of first place in Region 5-7A.
The Bulldogs (6-16, 2-6) gave West (13-9, 6-1) everything they could handle early, feeding off the crowd’s energy in their only game played at their old domed gym.
It was so loud that the halftime buzzer was barely audible, but when play finally stopped, Central and West were tied at the half, 23-23.
“(In the first half) we got caught watching,” West coach Fredrick Hurt said. “Watching the atmosphere, watching them. Settling for every three. We had nothing going to the basket anymore.”
Hurt took a timeout with four minutes left until halftime and told his team ‘no more threes for the rest of the half.’
“We tried to recommit about rebounding at halftime,” Hurt said. “Moving the ball and us moving instead of standing around like we did for about a quarter and a half in the first half.”
Instead of settling for jump shots, West made a concerted effort to drive the basketball and get to the foul line in the second half.
West outshot Central 34-7 at the foul line going 25-34 (21-27 in the second half).
“Coach Hurt made a pretty good adjustment,” senior Terrence Taylor said. “Our shots weren’t falling, so it was only common sense to start driving in the paint. We’re very good at that.
“We got a lot of layups, a lot of free throws and it all worked out.”
Wolverine freshman Broc Bidwell was the game’s leading scorer with 20 points, going 8-for-8 from the foul line, all in the second half when West was shooting in front of the Central student section.
“I got my free throw routine,” said Bidwell about dealing with the crowd noise. “I just stuck down my head and I did what I’ve done all season and just shot it up.
“It was the craziest environment we played in all year.”
Four of Bidwell’s eight foul shots came via a couple of technical fouls on Central, one late in the third, the other early in the fourth when things started to get chippy. West, however, was able to maintain its composure and avoided the technical fouls.
“That is big for us,” Hurt said. “Because that’s been something we really had to deal with last year is keeping our composure, and we’ve done much better at it this year.”
Central girls 38, West 32
The Central girls evened the season series against West with a gritty 38-32 win in a defensive slugfest at the Dome.
No team shot the ball particularly well and there were several unforced errors throughout, but Central (10-13, 2-6) made just enough shots, coupled with their defensive play, to pull it out.
“You can’t stress the importance of those hustle plays (enough) whenever the shots aren’t falling,” Central coach Angela Hurt said. “We’ve kind of gone in a lull with our shooting percentage, but it was nice to see that we can keep fighting through and play good defense for the most part.”
Central’s leading scorer was sophomore Morgan Day with eight points, but what the Bulldogs lacked in offense, they made up for with steals and blocks as West (4-19, 2-6) struggled to get shots up all game, something Hurt hopes will carry over to the region tournament.
“We’re in a position where we’re going to play West again,” Hurt said. “The first time we played (West), we just played bad. At least we had hustle tonight, and that’s what made the difference.”