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Basketball: West Forsyth holds on against South Forsyth, improves to 8-0 in region
West Forsyth senior TJ Hess goes for a layup Friday during the Wolverines' 51-49 win against South Forsyth. - photo by David Roberts

South Forsyth inbounded the ball four separate times on its final possession Friday night.

Each time Joe Wortman was where he needed to be. 

With 18.5 seconds left in the game, and with West Forsyth leading 51-49, Wortman knocked the ball out of Baylor Hicks' hands and out of bounds with 8.4 seconds remaining. Then Wortman jumped in front of the ensuing inbound pass that set off a free-for-all at midcourt that ended with South retaining possession with only 3.4 seconds.

Wortman fouled on the following inbound pass — West's final foul — which gave the War Eagles exactly 1.1 seconds to make a shot.

Ethan Underwood broke free off the inbound and attempted a 3-pointer with Wortman's hand in his face. Underwood's heave hit the front lip of the rim, and South's bench erupted looking for the foul, which never came.

It was the bookend of a productive quarter for West's pesky guards, Wortman and Mark Daly. 

The two were at the center of West's go-ahead possession late in the fourth quarter, when Daly forced a turnover in front of the Wolverines' bench and Wortman found Jake Mooney below the basket to give West a 50-49 lead with a minute remaining.

"They're big impact players," West head coach Frederick Hurt said. "We can play them together, they can share point guard time and they both do really good things for us."

South misfired on the following possession, and Will Moore corralled the missed 3-pointer and passed to Wortman, who was fouled and drained 1 of 2 free throws to make it 51-49 with 18.5 seconds to go.

That's when West was able to eat away at the clock, allowing the War Eagles just one shot with 1.1 seconds left.

"We've only talked about that in practice. We haven't practiced that a lot," Hurt said. "So, in the huddle I guess it was [18] seconds, we reminded them we had a foul to give. If Underwood goes early and beats us off the dribble, go ahead and foul him and they can take it out of bounds. But that never really happened because we almost stole it."

The two teams played to a 22-22 tie at halftime after Caleb Lesch's pull-up jumper answered a 3-pointer by Hicks.

But South put the clamps on West in the third quarter, limiting the Wolverines to just two scorers — Mooney and Grant Moore — while Underwood knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and Teddy Toth ended the quarter with a trey of his own to give South a 41-35 lead.

West trailed by eight points early in the fourth quarter before a bucket and a Sam Maynard putback brought the score to 43-39 with 5:15 left.

Will Moore's 3-pointer — just the second all game for West — cut the deficit to two points, then a couple of hard layups and two free throws by Grant Moore gave the Wolverines a 49-48 lead that they never relinquished.

"We felt like in the first half we took some good threes that didn't go, and then we took some bad threes," Hurt said. "It really felt like our advantage was trying to go inside, so we really tried to force feed it in the second half, and then we missed some. Point blank, we missed some. But that's part of basketball."

The win moves West to 8-0 in Region 6-7A play and is the team's fifth region victory by single digits.  

"It just proves everything else we've been saying: Anybody can beat anybody in this region," Hurt said.

Mooney finished with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Grant Moore added 13 points, five rebounds and two blocks. Will Moore had three points and nine rebounds, and Wortman racked up five assists.

Underwood led the War Eagles with 18 points, while Caleb Underwood added 11.

West [16-4, 8-0 Region 6-7A] will travel to Roswell at 3:30 p.m. Saturday before heading to North Forsyth on Tuesday, while South [10-11, 4-4 Region 6-7A] will travel to Forsyth Central on Tuesday.