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West Forsyth girls handle Mill Creek to advance in state tournament
Staiti led team with 35 points, Pirkle added 10 off the bench
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West Forsyth junior forward Brooke Pirkle gave the Lady Wolverines a big boost off the bench Tuesday scoring 10 points and dishing out five assists. - photo by Micah Green

After winning its first region championship on Saturday, West Forsyth earned another milestone on Tuesday night with a 65-51 win over Mill Creek at home to clinch its first state playoff win in school history.

West, which opened in 2007, entered the game with an 0-3 state record, which included losses in the first round of 2012, as well as the previous two seasons—all of which were on the road. This time around, as a No. 1 seed and on their home floor, the Lady Wolverines advanced to the second round with relative ease.

“I'm really proud of these girls,” West head coach David May said. “It's something we've talked about, hosting a state playoff game. That was the goal this year, so breaking through with that first win is huge. We as coaches are sitting back and just thankful the girls are carrying us along. They came out ready to go and were fired up.”

Jenna Staiti led the way, scoring 35 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and offering three blocked shots, though she did most of the damage in the first half with 25 points as the Lady Wolverines marched to a 42-24 halftime lead.

Early on, West's perimeter players looked as confident as they had all season. The team dished 13 of its 19 assists in the first half. The first player off the bench, Brooke Pirkle, showed off a nifty mid-range shot and had five assists for the game to go along with 10 points, while Jane Ortlip and Carsen Parker had nine assists combined. Kalie Schlegal added six points and five assists as well.

May thought it was the best execution of the season.

“That's what we tell the kids, that we are really crisp in practice, so that was going to carry over,” May said. “All of the girls got involved. When those other girls start making shots and loosen everything up, you can really get on a roll and that's what I saw tonight.”

Pirkle and Schlegal added an extra dynamic to West's offense as Mill Creek's defense focused heavily on Staiti early on.

“Brooke did a great job. She's energy off the bench. She and Kaile do a nice job running that other post outside of Jenna because they can shoot that mid-range game. When they doubled down on Jenna they were both there to take the pressure off of her,” May said.

West got a scare in the third quarter, as Mill Creek's balanced shooting turned into a 20-9 run, then a 3-pointer to start the fourth cut West's lead to 53-47. Ortlip stopped the bleeding by hitting a timely 3-pointer, and West ran away with the score down the stretch.

Mill Creek had three players in double figures, as Morgan Simmons scored 12, Tatum Ragsdale and Wynter Webb had 10 and Bridget Mukasa had eight.

West will face the winner of Wednesday's matchup between Langston Hughes and Newton in the second round game, which is set for Friday night. It's uncharted territory for May, but he hopes his team will continue to ride the momentum of a five-game winning streak.

“We're just going to go into this game like any other,” May said. “We'll clean up a few things in practice and go into Friday and see what happens.”