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Basketball: West girls pull away late against Central to remain unbeaten
West Forsyth's Cayla Cowart directs the offense against Forsyth Central on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. - photo by David Roberts

On Friday night, one of Forsyth County’s more exciting girls basketball rivalries got a fitting stage.

For the past few years, the matchups between Forsyth Central and West Forsyth have been very competitive, with games often coming down to the final possession.

That, along with the fact that they’d be playing in Central’s annual Domecoming, only ramped up the hype.

“The whole season, this is the game I’ve been looking forward to, just playing them again because we’re big rivals,” West Forsyth sophomore Cayla Cowart said.

The Wolverines didn’t need any last-second heroics to beat the Bulldogs on Friday, though, creating a relatively comfortable lead late to take a 52-43 victory.

Still, the game had the same competitive feel that both teams have come to expect.

“Our girls know that it’s going to be a dog fight,” West head coach David May said. “That’s a very good basketball team — they have some players who can score and some players who can shoot, and to come on the road and get a win in their place is really big for our girls.

Forsyth Central's Tese Ajorbor drives to the basket against West Forsyth on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019.
Early on, Central had the advantage. The Bulldogs went on a 7-0 run after the Wolverines’ first bucket, but West sophomore Calie Thrower hit a three to narrow the Central lead to 9-8. Tese Ajorbor responded with a putback shot, but with one minute left in the opening period, the Wolverines tied it at 13-13 with free throws. A Thrower layup gave them a 15-13 lead heading into the second.

That’s when West’s offense really began to ramp up.

The Wolverines began the frame with a 14-1 run, capped off by two inside shots from Cowart. After a timeout, Central junior Aisha Dabo broke the streak by muscling into the lane, and junior Carson Cloud ended the first half with a three to trim West’s lead to 29-20 at the break.

“I thought we played some spurts of some of our best basketball this year,” May said. “I thought we did some really good things on the offensive end against their zone and their different looks.”

But in the third, Central immediately put away any chance of an easy win, starting the quarter with an offensive showing led by Dabo and sophomore Jillian Bretz. The Bulldogs’ production in shooting and in rebounding paid dividends, with Central retaking the lead at 35-34 with 3:04 left in the period.

“In the third quarter, they killed us on the boards,” May said. “We had a chance there at the end of the second and the beginning of the third to kind of put that game away, and to their credit, they got after it on the offensive glass. We didn’t step up to that very well.”

Central’s edge didn’t last long, though, with Thrower immediately connecting on a three to put the Wolverines back up. From that point, West was mostly in control, with a Cowart three at the buzzer giving her team a 42-36 lead entering the fourth quarter. West did what it had to do to keep the Bulldogs at bay late.

Friday’s victory was West’s second big win of the week, having defeated defending last year’s Region 5-7A champion North Forsyth in dramatic fashion on Tuesday. Still undefeated at 11-0 after playing some of the best competition in their region, the Wolverines feel great about where they are.

“It’s a big week (and) big success for us,” Cowart said. “I’m excited to see where we go, because this is just the beginning. We’re going to get better from here.”