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West Forsyth cruises past Newton, advances to state quarterfinals
Staiti led team with 35 points, 20 rebounds
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West Forsyth junior Carsen Parker dribbles while defended by a Newton player Friday in the Lady Wolverines' 70-33 victory in the second round of the Class AAAAAA tournament. - photo by Dave Williamson

So far this postseason, it appears the West Forsyth girls’ basketball team is getting hot at just the right time.

The Lady Wolverines won their sixth straight game on Friday night by trouncing Newton, 70-33, in the second round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs.

It was West's last home game of the year, as the next two rounds will be played at the University of West Georgia, and the championship round in Macon. West head coach David May said he went into the game treating it much like a senior night. It couldn't have gone any better.

“It's great. One of the great things about tonight was to have a home playoff game … and to send the seniors off with a win,” May said. “That was one of the things they had talked about and tweeted about. It was one of those times you know, no matter what, it's your last home game, so for the seniors to lead us like that made me really proud.”

The seniors produced. On her home floor for the final time, Jenna Staiti might have had the game of her career. She scored 35 points, grabbed 20 rebounds and registered seven blocks before gladly taking a seat on the bench for the final eight minutes of play.

Her dominant performance helped the Lady Wolverines to a 60-17 third quarter lead, then the reserves played the rest of the way. Newton began the game surrounding Staiti on the low block with three defenders, but fellow senior Jane Ortlip shot the Lady Rams out of their original defense with two quick 3-pointers. Ortlip finished with 15 points and three shots from behind the arc, while Kalie Schlegal had nine points. Ortlip, Carsen Parker and Brooke Pirkle combined for 10 assists.

Much as it's been since the region championship game, May feels like his team's identity is more than just Staiti. He feels like his entire group is playing their best ball of the year.

“They're playing really well right now. They have a lot of confidence,” May said. “In tournament time teams that make runs are the ones that can take it up a notch by being mentally focused, knowing everything that's going on with the opponent. They did a great job of taking everything up, mentally and physically.”

Newton struggled to score with West's starters on the floor. They trailed 40-13 at halftime. Eventually, Jurnee Smith and Imani Broadnax led the team in scoring with eight points, a piece. Just three Newton starters hit field goals.

West will move on to West Georgia to face Cherokee at 3 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals. Cherokee is 24-5 and went 14-2 in Region 5-AAAAAA. They defeated Hillgrove 70-52 on Friday night to advance.

The semifinals will also be at West Georgia, with the championship set to take place at the Macon Coliseum.