An empty gym and a 10 a.m. tipoff is usually recipe for the strange and unexpected, but the West Forsyth and Forsyth Central boys didn’t get that memo.
The county rivals raced through an entertaining first quarter and were within single digits at halftime—not the sleepy start that could rightfully be expected—before West used two big second-half runs to put away the Bulldogs, 71-54, at the Wolverine Winter Classic on Monday morning.
“It really doesn’t matter if it’s at two o’clock in the morning or 10 a.m.,” West coach Jim Cook said. “We have a pretty mature team and they understand when that clock starts, it’s time for 32 minutes of basketball.”
West freshman guard Joe Freitas, up from the junior varsity in place of senior Tripp Beatty (knee), hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and scored a game-high 18 for the Wolverines. Cam Macer added 16 and Jimmy Staiti, in his first game back from a concussion suffered at Lambert, scored nine in limited minutes.
Parker Biederer scored 13 for Central, which got 11 points from Braden Ragsdale and 10 from Eli Brown.
When Cale Jackson cut West’s lead to five with the first basket of the second half, the Wolverines answered with what would be a decisive 8-0 run on the backs of John Peterson, Freitas and Staiti, pushing the West advantage to 13. Central couldn’t get closer than nine the rest of the way.
“What I thought the difference was in the second half was our transition offense,” Cook said. “We got out, advanced the ball quickly, and then guys finished around the rim.”
Early in the fourth, it was Jackson again getting Central within single digits at 54-45. Freitas, assured for a freshman guard in the face of Central pressure, intervened with eight of 13 unanswered West points that killed the game off.
“It’s a double-edged sword. Sometimes it’s better for them to not lie around and think about the game too much and get nervous,” Cook said. “Now, they get the rest of the day off to rest.”
West returns to action at 10 a.m. on Tuesday against North Springs. Central’s contest with a familiar foe for most Forsyth County teams—defending Region 6-AAAAAA champion Alpharetta—follows at 11:30 a.m.
West Forsyth boys 71, Forsyth Central 54
Forsyth Central 18 10 14 12_54
West Forsyth 20 15 17 19_71
Central: Biederer 13, Ragsdale 11, Brown 10, Fenton 8, Jackson 7, Hester 3, McDonald 2.
West: Freitas 18, Macer 16, Staiti 9, Morris 7, Fuller 5, Pruitt 5, Keller 4, Peterson 4, Thompson 2, Evans 1.