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South Forsyth overpowers South Gwinnett girls in state tournament

CUMMING — Late in the first half, South Gwinnett's Asheika Alexander came up with a big steal on defense and drove the length of the court well ahead of all defenders for a wide-open lay up.

The shot, however, circled the rim once and fell to the floor. It was that kind of night for the Comets.

Facing South Forsyth on Friday night, South Gwinnett fell behind early and couldn't mount a serious comeback as the War Eagles toppled the Comets 62-39 in the opening round of the Class AAAAAA girls basketball state playoffs.

The loss ended the season for the Comets at 16-12, while South Forsyth will advance to next week's second round against the winner of Saturday's Norcross-Walton contest.

"We just had too many inconsistencies on our part," South Gwinnett head coach Kidada Holtzclaw said. "If you want to be successful in the state playoffs, you can't have that. We lacked some of the defensive prowess we've had recently and couldn't get it together tonight."

The first half was particularly woeful for the Comets as they collected just two field goals and hit 3 of 7 free throws for seven points.

Meanwhile, the War Eagles (25-5) were steady, getting 13 points in the first quarter and 15 more in the second to take a commanding 28-7 lead into the locker room at the half.

South woke up on offense in the third quarter, putting together a 7-0 run and more than doubling their first half output with 16 points. Alexis Lewis, who led the Comets with 13 points and eight rebounds, led that attack with seven in the third.

But the War Eagles also kept their offensive production going, led by Sarah Myers. Myers, who led all players with 31 points, logged six of those in the third and kept the Comets at bay in the fourth with 13 more.

"We had a lot of shots in the first half that we missed because we were being a bit overzealous," Holtzclaw said. "We were able to attack and finish a little bit better in the second half but weren't able to pull it out."

Part of the success in the second half for the Comets came from Essence Jordan, who scored all 12 of her points off the bench in the final two periods.

South Forsyth also received 12 points, six rebounds and four steals from Shelby Threlkeld, who transferred to the Cumming school after playing her freshman and sophomore seasons at Lanier.

Ally Welch also added 12 points for the War Eagles.

The loss on Friday night ended Holtzclaw's first season at the helm for South Gwinnett, who came to Snellville after five seasons at Alcovy.

"It's been a great experience," Holtzclaw said. "We've had a lot of things this season that we can celebrate, including getting into the state playoffs. We look to move even further next year."