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Titan rally falls short in heartbreaking loss to North

The outcome wasn’t favorable but the individual effort was.

West Forsyth, a team that is 11 points away from being undefeated in the month of December, dropped a 68-67 decision to hosting North Forsyth last Friday night in non-conference boys varsity high school basketball play.

The unfavorable decision left the Titans with a 5-4 record heading into this week’s annual Frank Spencer Holiday Classic.

In spite of the loss, bright spots for West could be found in the continuing emergence of guard Greg Ballas and the inside work of T.J. Goco — a pair of Titans who sparked a second-half rally that nearly gave West the win.

Goco, a 6’7” senior center, played a dominant role on the boards while Ballas bombed away from the outside to finish with 14 points. Coming on the heels of his play in a win against Surry Central last week, it was the second strong performance in a row for the Titan junior.

Afterwards, West coach Mike Pennington credited the duo and also praised the overall efforts of his short-handed team. Missing from the lineup was starting point guard Darion Slade. Slade had all four of his wisdom teeth pulled earlier in the day.

“North is a fast, athletic team and we had to go over there without Darion,” he pointed out. “That could have spelled disaster. But Greg and T.J. both stepped up for us and made big plays during our rally. And Thomas (Sprinkle) and Avery Jackson also played well out front.”

Pennington also lauded the efforts of Matthew Pennington and Javon Parham, two Titans who were back in action for the first time this month.

“Being shorthanded, I went into this game worried that things could get ugly if we weren’t able to handle North’s pressure,” he said. “But honestly, this is a game we should have won. We missed a couple of easy shots at the end that could have swung things in our favor.”

West opened strong, racing to a 7-0 lead and holding North scoreless for the first five minutes.

But the Vikings soon fought back behind the offensive efforts of Kedrick Flomo (18 points) and Xavier Jackson (17 points). Flomo broke the all-time North scoring record of Denny Key (a former Titan head coach who set the mark in 1965) and helped the Vikings take a 32-28 lead at the break.

Thanks to the scoring of Austin Delucia (16 points), West managed to stay close early in the third quarter. But the Vikings went on a run late in the period to build a 13-point advantage.

West rallied in the final quarter and took a 67-66 lead on a driving bank shot by Austin Rose with 30 seconds to go. But North answered with two free throws on its ensuing possession and then held on for the win.

West will meet Forsyth Country Day in the first round of the Spencer Classic this Thursday night at 5:30. That game will be played at Mount Tabor High School.