EAST BEND - For the better part of three seasons, Wilkes Central has been the staple of girls basketball in the area.
Savannah Hill, Brittany Moose and the Lady Falcons changed that Friday night in East Bend - for one night at least.
Forbush stunned the powerhouse Eagles 71-57, knocking Central off its perch on top of the Mountain Valley Conference standings in thrilling fashion.
“That’s huge. Obviously we’re both pretty young. They were undefeated coming into tonight, so to beat them, is huge,” head coach Bradley Shore explained. “Overall, I don’t know when the last time Forbush girls beat Wilkes Central.”
While the Eagles are not as dominant as they were a year ago when they advanced to the 2A state title game (9-5 on the season), they are still the class of the conference, riding a win streak that has spanned three seasons. Central’s last MVAC loss came in Jan. 15, 2011 to Ashe County.
Forbush came out strong and took it to the Eagles, jumping out to a 12-8 lead following a Hill three-pointer. Central responded and grabbed an 17-15 advantage after one quarter of play.
The Falcons retook the lead on a Hannah Dinkins bucket early in the second and opened the frame on a 15-5 burst, taking a 30-22 lead with 1:45 left.
But Central knocked down back-to-back treys down the stretch to cut the deficit to two at 30-28 heading to the locker room.
The teams traded baskets and the lead in a back-and-forth third quarter until another Dinkins put-back gave Forbush a 46-44 lead they would never surrender.
A personal 7-2 run by Moose pushed the Falcons lead out to five at 53-48 two minutes into the fourth quarter as Forbush never looked back.
The Falcons knocked down 11-of-14 free throws in the final frame and held Wilkes Central’s high-powered offense to just 11 points in the quarter to cruise to the wild 71-57 victory.
“That was exciting,” Shore said. “That may have been our second best game of the year from start to finish. We’ve been getting more consistent every game. For four quarters we played very well tonight. We knew coming in that we were going to face pressure the entire game and I thought we handed their pressure fairly well. They forced some turnovers but we never got down on ourselves.
“The girls are pretty excited. They asked if they could turn the music on, and usually we don’t listen to music after the game. They cranked it up but I told them to come out of the locker room cool as cucumbers,” he continued. “We’re beginning to expect this so we want to celebrate in the locker room. I think they’re probably more excited tonight than after their first win over North Iredell. To score a conference win over a team that no one has beaten in the past few years…they’re pumped.”
The trio of Hill, Moose and Shannon Holden powered Forbush to the upset victory. Hill and Moose paced the offense with 16 points apiece, while Holden finished with 15 points on the night. Moose did the majority of her damage on the free throw line, knocking down 14-of-17 foul shots. Nine Falcons scored on the night.
“They all got on the floor and hustled,” Shore explained. “All that comes from the confidence of winning a game or two. They realize they could win a game and they want to fight that much harder for a win. We had some great bench support tonight. They contributed offensively and defensively and also gave the starters some rest. Our starters were fresh in the second half.”
After starting the season 0-9, the Falcons have been on fire as of late, winning four games in a row and five of their last six, including three-straight conference wins. Forbush now sits at 5-10 on the year and 3-4 in the league.
The Falcons return to the court next week against Alleghany on Tuesday before hosting East Wilkes Friday night.
“It’s taking longer than planned like it did last year, but we’re on a little winning streak and the girls are believing,” Shore said. “I’m excited for the win, but our statement is we want to win games. It was a big win, but we have to come out strong Tuesday against Alleghany. It’s big for tonight.”
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.