Forsyth Central fans tried their best to create a home court advantage. The officials apparently didn't get the memo.
South Forsyth fended off a raucous visiting crowd and a few momentum swings to hold on and defeat the Bulldogs 54-43 Friday night for a key Region 5-7A win.
"We needed this game. They needed this game," South head coach Scott Givens said. "They had runs, we had runs, but we managed to finish the game."
South (7-14, 3-3) has three less total victories than the pesky Bulldogs, but moved into third place out of the four state playoff seeds with four contests to go.
Evan Cole started slow in the scoring column, but the UNC-Wilmington signee filled the sheet by night's end with 13 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and two assists. C.J. Smith led the scoring for Central (10-11, 2-4) with five 3-pointers and 17 total points.
"Smith is an all-region player," Givens said. "He has my vote."
As for Cole: "Teams sell out to stop him. He sees two guys, three guys, but our guys are learning how to use that to their advantage and play around him."
Daniel Bateman was a beneficiary of Cole's attention -- he finished with 13 points.
Central had big bench contributions from Gray Bowline and Kevin Neubrecht, who both used nifty moves to avoid the 6-foot-7 Cole under the rim. Bowline had seven points and three boards while Neubrecht scored 13 points. Their 20-combined offset a brief outing from Cole's original matchup, 6-foot-5 senior center Patrick Thomas.
Central's visiting fans made it feel like a home game for Greg Dirst's club at War Eagle Arena. While South fans were spread sparsely across the arena, Central fans packed the away stands and made plenty of noise -- especially during an inspired third quarter run to cut it from 25-13 to 25-21 and eventually 31-28 after three periods. Cole took back some momentum at the buzzer with a poster-slam.
Despite the well-traveled contingent behind the bench, the glaring statistic from the contest was a 32-4 advantage for South at the charity stripe. Dirst bashfully declined to comment on the specifics of the discrepancy.
"Give credit to Coach Givens and his kids," Dirst said. "His kids played hard, I'm proud of the way ours fought.”
South's Santhosh Saravanan scored all nine of his points from the stripe, with half coming in the final moments as South built its lead back above 10 in the waning moments.
South girls 60, Central 10
The Lady War Eagles cruised past Central to improve to 13-7, 4-1 in Region and a game away from Lambert in the standings.
South forced 17 first half turnovers and led 32-2 at the half as well as 49-3 after the third period.
Mari Jonassen, who faced a scare after seemingly re-injuring her right knee on Tuesday, started and looked healthy with six assists and three steals in a half's worth of playing time. Jonassen was spelled by Ryane Williams, who burst onto the scene with 16 points, three steals, two rebounds and an assist. Zoe Maisel added 14 points while Emily Dreslinski had nine.
Sara Idris scored eight points and Olivia Poff added three steals of her own.
Forsyth Central fell to 1-16 on the season.