By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
Despite trailing for nearly three quarters, the West Forsyth girls turned a sluggish start and an eight-point deficit into a second-half surge and a tough road win, outlasting their South Forsyth hosts 63-54.
West spent the third quarter on a 23-17 run (nine of them courtesy of Cayla Cowart) that pulled them within two points of their hosts.
Cowart scored 10 points on five shots in the final 3 1/2 minutes of regulation to seal the win.
“Oh, it’s a big win for us,” West head coach David May said. “Any time you can go on the road and get a region win, it’s a big win. South is a very solid team, they shoot the ball really well and they have a ton of pride — they’ve won a ton of basketball games coming up through the ranks. You’ve got to play well to beat them, and I thought for the second half we played really well tonight.”
West took a noticeably more aggressive offensive approach in the second half, increasing the urgency on transitions and attacking the rim with more consistency. They also began forcing a significant number of War Eagle fouls as a result, with Ava Mcglockton and Maggie Thompson each exiting the fourth quarter with their fifth.
“I think we did a better job of attacking and putting them on their heals (in the second half),” May said. “We got a couple of their girls in foul trouble, got to the free-throw line, and that’s just stuff we weren’t doing in the first half.”
Five different Wolverines tallied points on the evening led by Cowart’s 34 and junior Calie Thrower trailing her with 11. Cowart missed four consecutive free throws in the second quarter but sank eight of her next 11 and finished her night 10 of 17.
“Cayla played extremely well in the second half,” May said. “She set the tone with her energy, she got some great rebounds for us and when we get some energy going and she can get them going backwards. She’s really tough to guard.”
Sophomores Sharon Tolliver and Clara Morris led the scoring for the War Eagles with 18 and 17 points, respectively, and each of them sinking a trio of 3s.
Mcglockton added 13 points of her own in addition to numerous rebounds and stout defensive play that South undeniably missed in the game’s final minutes.
The War Eagles finished the night with 27 fouls (nine of them in the final quarter alone), while West finished with 22.
South head coach Keith Gravitt expressed frustration with the unusually high number of fouls and the missed opportunity following his team’s home loss.
“We’ve played 18 or 19 games this year, and I’ve watched another 25 at least, and I haven’t seen both teams get into the bonus that many times this year,” he said. “Now we played terrible defense. We couldn’t stop (Cowart) and we put ourselves in bad situations and they made shots when they needed to and I’m not downplaying that. They’re a very good team and they made a run.”
The second game of the night saw the South boys extend their winning streak to 11 games in the form of a 73-43 blowout of their West Forsyth hosts.
Twelve different War Eagles tallied points on the evening with Devin McGlockton leading the way with 23 and Brandon Stoudamire behind him with 16. The Wolverines made a handful of high-effort plays — forcing the occasional turnover and blocking the occasional shot — yet never truly seemed to have a real answer to the South attack. Similarly on offense, West made a number of notable outside shots, yet consistently failed to find the open space in the South defense and too often seemed to settle for the low-percentage opportunities when another pass or two was needed.