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Basketball: West Forsyth girls hope personnel shuffle can produce late-season surge
Parker followed gut feeling back onto the court
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Carsen Parker goes for a drive last season in the state playoffs against Newton. She decided to return to the team in recent weeks after originally electing to focus on soccer for her senior year. - photo by File photo

Only four games remain in the regular season, but the West Forsyth Lady Wolverines (10-9, 1-4) have reason to feel like they are still in preseason mode.

Nineteen games in? Yes – it’s not much of a hyperbole. Since region play started West has been digging out of a rut that followed a promising 9-5 start. That’s because West’s most experienced players have yet to touch the floor at the same time, and there’s more than one familiar face who has waited patiently to get back into the flow of things in recent weeks.

Wearing a new number—33—Carsen Parker checked into the game during the second quarter of Tuesday’s Region 5-7A tilt at Lambert. It was just her third time at the scorer’s table this season since returning to the team a few weeks ago. Her name is familiar, of course, because she was the starting point guard for the team led by Miss Georgia Basketball, Jenna Staiti, that went to last year’s Class 6A semifinals. Parker elected, along with Brooke Pirkle, to stick with soccer (they will both play at Arkansas in college). Then she had a change of heart, sitting in the stands from game to game and knowing she could help out.

“The more I saw the team the more I realized I could bring something to the table,” Parker said. “I stopped and thought about how I was missing my last chance to play basketball.”

The experienced senior supplements a lineup that was running with junior and first-year starter Nicole Toole. Still, Parker tossed away three turnovers on her first four touches on Tuesday. The rust is still coming off, but she bounced back to record five steals and score four points.

“It’s different. I’ve not scored much since coming back. Then again, I didn’t last year. It’s still a work in progress.”

A work in progress is an understatement; Parker isn’t the only one.

Abby Quincy, who was scoring over 20 points in contests earlier in the season after returning in the wake of a one-year absence, has spent the last few region games fighting off an ankle injury. Her return is on the way. “Hopefully soon,” West head coach David May said.

Ella Madson, a talented sophomore who earned playing time in the state playoffs last season, continues to show off athleticism but also a need for support. Madson has missed playing time recently due to dual-sport involvement with lacrosse and an injury of her own.

Coming full circle, back to Parker, the veteran-turned newbie was fighting nausea on Tuesday during the contest. “I didn’t get a lot of playing time in the second half because I felt like I was going to throw up. I’m not sure what it was,” she said with a laugh.

With Lambert (19-2, 7-0) and South Forsyth (15-7, 6-1) clearly the class of the region, West is trying to keep at the heels of North Forsyth (15-5, 3-3) in region play. They may not get further than the fourth slot in the region standings by season’s end, fending off winless Forsyth Central and Milton, but there’s a belief that the Lady Wolverines can peak just in time for the postseason. There won’t be state expectations, but there will be an opportunity for the team to finally find equilibrium and compete like it hoped to at the beginning of the year—compete like it did in real time during a 9-5 start.

A lineup of Parker, Quincy, Madson, Maggy and Abby Quincy and Kalie Schlegel—who dominated with 8 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block, would be a major facelift for West.

“I think we can be really good,” Parker said. “We just have to get on the floor at the same time. We’re still waiting.”

“We have to keep competing,” May said. “Tonight we didn’t compete until later in the game.

“We hope everything can come together.”