Now that the junior varsity basketball season is in its final two weeks, East Forsyth is looking to have a déjà vu experience. A year ago, the Eagles won the Piedmont Triad 4-A Conference. For now, however, it remains to be seen if East can repeat as league champions.
“I like our chances to win it (conference title) again,” said Coach Rodney White, whose team was 9-5 overall and 4-2 in conference play at the start of this week. “It’s taken this group half a season to realize that they’re at their very best when they play together.”
White is convinced that recent performances are a positive sign that the Eagles are primed to run the table in their final five games. A week ago, East posted impressive wins over Glenn (75-66) and Northwest Guilford (80-70) on consecutive nights. In both games, the Eagles put a padlock on the opposition with their frenzied pressing and trapping defense.
“Our defense is our offense,” said White. “When we get after people, run down loose balls and get in the passing lanes, we’re tough to deal with. Our guys have figured out that if they don’t play tough defense, they don’t win games.”
Against Glenn, the Eagles blew a 38-30 halftime lead and the Bobcats rallied to tie the game at 43-43 with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter. East Forsyth turned up its defensive pressure, which created a bevy of Glenn turnovers. Halfway through the fourth quarter, East went up by 20 points and coasted the rest of the way.
Four starters delivered all the offense that East needed. Swing player Chrishon Springs was tops with 21 points, followed by Jarian Johnson, a 6-feet-5 center who contributed 17 points. Three-point sharpshooter Cameron Mack started the game slowly, but warmed up in the second half and finished with 16 points. Tirek Vance rounded out the double-digits scoring for East with 15 points.
The next night, the Eagles’ man-to-man defense was sufficient to shut down Northwest Guilford. It was the first conference loss of the year for Northwest. Aside from Johnson, Mack and Springs, East Forsyth got scoring help from Chris Curry and defensive specialist Carson Sharpe.
“Those wins on back-to-back nights tell me something about where we are as a team,” said White. “I knew they would probably be a little tired on the second night, but they managed to play through it. We’re ready to make this run and hopefully, we’ll finish up in first place (in the conference) by the end of the season.”
The Eagles have remaining games against High Point Central, Ragsdale, Parkland, Southwest Guilford, Northwest Guilford and Glenn.