West Forsyth rebounds after early tournament struggles, finishes seventh in Garber girls basketball tournament after knocking off Parkland

Published 11:28 am Friday, November 24, 2023

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By Jay Spivey

For the Clemmons Courier

The results for the Mary Garber Holiday Tip-Off Classic in the Bell Davis Pitt Bracket may not have been what the No. 4-seeded West Forsyth girls basketball team was looking for, but the seventh-place finish after defeating Central Piedmont 4-A rival Parkland 50-48 Wednesday morning at Atkins provided a glimmer of hope.

“I told the girls, ‘The biggest thing for today was push past the last two games,'” Coach Catrina Green of West Forsyth said after defeating Parkland. “I felt like we came out sluggish. A lot of kids just didn’t play to their abilities. And I said, ‘Let’s get better in this game.’

“And I felt like, you know, we had the lead, we lost it, we fought back.”

The Titans led the seventh-seeded Mustangs on Wednesday 14-9 after the first quarter and 22-19 at halftime.

“The same thing happened in the East Wilkes game (consolation game on Tuesday),” Green said. “We had a lead. We lost it, and then we just kind of rolled over. So, one of our biggest things is our three Ts – we talk, we play tough, and we play together. And I think in the end, it really showed from our group, and I’m excited about where we’re going moving forward.”

West Forsyth (1-2) lost to Central Piedmont 4-A rival and fifth-seeded Reagan 52-42 in the first round last Saturday. It played in the consolation Tuesday night against eighth-seeded East Wilkes and lost 33-30.

“Definitely a big step,” Green said. “I think playing three games in the span of four or five days is really hard. And I know these kids are tired. I think making that jump kind of turned the light bulb on for some of them to show that they can do it; they can push through. And we’ve got the pieces to win a lot of games.

“It might be tight this year, but we have the potential to do really well.”

Parkland (0-3) clawed back and took a 40-33 lead with 7:48 left in the fourth quarter after Azari Wilkins hit a follow. However, West Forsyth hung in. Brooklyn King, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, made a layup with 1:06 left to trim the lead to 46-45.

“I told my kids, ‘We’ve got to come out and press. We’ve got to try to get the ball back, Get steals,'” Green said. “Their ball handlers are predominantly right-handed. Force them back to the left and just rebound the ball and get down the floor. Play patient but continue to do things we do best and not let them dictate us.”

Emma Staples gave the Titans a 47-46 lead after a layup with 43.8 seconds left.

“We really stepped it up, and we were still down by five with like 2 minutes left in the game,” King said. “And so (Green) called the timeout, and we really just had to lock in and do our jobs. And we really had to hold them down so we could get up, and that’s what we did.”

However, the Mustangs regained the lead after Brianna Carter hit a layup with 36 seconds left to make it 48-47. But the Titans took possession, and Staples missed a 3-point attempt. King rebounded the miss and followed it to give the Titans 49-48 lead with 12 seconds remaining.

“That was huge for us,” King said, “Yeah. That was really huge for us. I felt really proud, and I was really glad I made the layup. And I’m just glad we’re back to it.”

Green and the rest of the team were also happy that King stepped up.

“Brooklyn knows her biggest job is to rebound the ball,” Green said. “Every time a shot goes up and she’s not in the paint, then I’m harping on her. So, just those extra-effort moments … Those extra-effort plays are what we needed to get momentum and get us pushing and back in the lead.”

King also had to step up because Campbell McClain and Isabel Gil fouled out. That’s in addition to sophomore Jeanna Baskerville, a 6-2 center, likely being out for the season with a knee injury that she suffered in May.

“We don’t have our traditional rim protector in Jeanna anymore right now, so Campbell’s having to step up in that role and a lot of the time, those fouls happen just because a mental block because we’re tired. She’s doing her job and coming over and helping because somebody got beat because they’re tired.

“So, I think we have the pieces that can come in and help when we get into those situations. But I would love not to be in those situations to begin with because Campbell’s one of our better rebounders and one of our better defenders.”

King was fouled with 2.1 seconds remaining, and she went to the free-throw line. She missed the first but made the second to push the Titans’ lead to 50-48.

“I’m really proud that I made one of the free throws because Coach Green told me, she told me I was a great free-throw shooter. Tried to get me in the right mind,” King said. “And after I missed the first one, I told myself to relax, breathe and then I made the second one.”

Parkland took the inbounds pass on the baseline, but it didn’t get off a shot before the buzzer.

“I told them push everything in front of you because they usually do their traditional 1-4. They saw the box. I think they kind of panicked a little bit,” Green said. “They made the switch. Brooklynn covered up and got a hand on it. So, it finished well.”

West Forsyth is off the rest of this week and doesn’t have another game until Fri., Dec. 1 at Atkins.

“No team plays their basketball until January,” Green said. “But I think it shows us that we have what it takes to compete. You know, a lot of people could be doubting us because we don’t have Jeanna, but we have the pieces to get it done. It’s just coming out and playing with confidence, and it gives us a good glimpse of those teams.”