Friday afternoon's third place Region 5-7A tournament game wasn’t the stage that West Forsyth’s girls basketball team was originally looking to play on.
The Wolverines had legitimate hopes of being one of the two teams playing in the region championship against North Forsyth, but a one-point loss to Forsyth Central in Wednesday’s semis ended those. West still had playoff seeding to play for, though, and not for nothing: Just one No. 4 seed won in the first round of the Class 7A girls playoffs last year.
“From here on out, every team you're going to play is good,” West head coach David May said. “There's a difference there between the No. 3 and No. 4 seed.”
West played like that was motivation enough. The Wolverines allowed just 15 points in the first half against South Forsyth and were never in danger of giving up a double-digit lead late, as they defeated the War Eagles 64-35 to claim the region’s third place spot.
Region 5-7A is matched up with Region 8 for the state playoffs, with Archer and Grayson being the prospective opponents for West and South, respectively. After a close win over South in the regular season finale last week, Friday’s performance was a very welcome one for the Wolverines.
“I thought we did a much better job today of asserting ourselves in the first half, getting the stuff that we wanted to get offensively and just being ready to play right from the beginning,” May said. “I thought Calie Thrower did a great job in kind of setting the tempo and attacking the basket. Defensively, we were better in transition than we were last time against them.”
Calie Thrower’s inside performance and a three from her sister Kalie helped the Wolverines jump out to a 9-3 lead with 4:41 left in the first quarter. A three from South narrowed the gap, but after a three from Cayla Cowart and a layup from Maggie Quincy, West led 19-11 heading into the second.
It was there that West began to really take control. South connected on only two field goals in the second period, and the Wolverines took advantage of the War Eagles’ mistakes and shooting woes to go on an 11-0 run before South’s Aniyah Word made a shot under the basket to end her squad’s scoreless streak. By halftime, South trailed 30-15.
“We struggled at the free throw line, struggled from the field, and (West) did a very good job and executed,” South head coach Keith Gravitt said. “Some days are like that. We had six uncontested turnovers during that second quarter.”
West's lead grew from there. Despite South's Ashley Breindl blocking a pass and taking the ball down the floor for a score early in the third, the Wolverines continued to pile on. After a three from Kalie Thrower as the third quarter buzzer sounded, West entered the fourth with a 42-24 advantage, a lead comfortable enough to hold on to easily.
Calie Thrower and Kalie Thrower led West with 18 and 17 points, respectively, while Kassidy Kimbro netted 11. Breindl scored seven for South, while Sophie Rosin and Ryane Williams scored six each.