Tuesday July 23rd, 2024 11:51AM
11:10AM ( 41 minutes ago ) News Alert

Class 6A girls playoffs: NoFo ready for the challenge against Veterans in Final 4

By Bo Wilson Sports Editor

Brad Kudlas knows the challenges ahead of his North Forsyth team in the semifinals of the Class 6A tournament on Saturday at West Georgia. 

He also understands how important it is for his team to get off to a fast start against a team like Veterans. The Lady Raiders (30-0 Region 8-6A No. 1 seed) will battle the Lady Warhawks (24-6, Region 1-6A, No. 2 seed) at the University of West Georgia on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m.

“It’s extremely important,” he said. “Playing in an unfamiliar arena can certainly make a difference in how both teams play. It may sound silly, but I think of Hoosiers when it comes to this game and how the court is still the same size, the goals are still 10 feet, and the game is still the same. Our challenge will be to control our emotions and come out in full force. Making some easy shots and getting defensive stops early will be key for us.”

The Lady Raiders were able to overcome a 4-of-19 shooting performance inside the paint, 7-of-28 from the field, in the first half and a nine-point deficit twice to knock off Woodward Academy, 61-49, in the quarterfinals at Raider Arena on Tuesday. 

Now, they'll face another athletic team in the semifinals in Veterans, who knocked off No. 1 seed Hughes on the road Tuesday. 

The Lady Warhawks are a solid combination of size inside and pose a threat from the 3-point line. Defensively, they are a full-court pressing team and play a swarming half-court defense. 

"Our staff is doing a tremendous job so far with breaking down film on Veterans, and what we’re quickly seeing is that they are a very impressive team," Kudlas said. "I’d say their best attribute is using their size and physicality on both ends of the court."

Forwards Rionna Byrd (6-foot-1), Gabby Minus (6-foot-2), Des'teyn Seaton (5-foot-9), and guards Leana Minus, Jessie Ortiz, Nariah Nelson (5-foot-10) and Madison Shepard will make the matchup up against North Forsyth's rotation of G/F London Weaver (6-foot), center Lindsey Pirkle (6-foot-2), F Sophia Parks (5-foot-11), G Gabbie Gliatta, G Emma Rose, G Addison Peck, G Josie Cheatham and F Abby Tarver (5-foot-11) very interesting. 

"I think this is a very interesting matchup," Kudlas said. "We feel confident in our defensive assignments and will be ready to make any adjustments in-game. Playing those games at Brunswick mid-season has also helped prepare us for different styles that we might see in the playoffs. They present a different challenge than what we have seen in our other playoff games, but I have full confidence in our game plan to be ready for them."

Although the NoFo defense has been stingy throughout the playoffs, allowing just 31 points per game, the offense has been streaky at times. Kudlas says playing a complete game will be key in getting past Veterans. 

"We must come out composed, play our game, and refuse to let any setbacks slow us down," he said. "It would also be great for our Coal Mountain community to make the trek and bring the same incredible energy that they have in Raider Arena during the playoffs."

One thing he doesn't have to worry about is the fierce will-to-win attitude of the team. The Lady Raiders have proven that when behind in the playoffs, they claw back into it. Case and point: Tuesday nights come from behind win over Woodward Academy. 

Kudlas says that mental toughness is an attribute that can't be coached.

"These girls have an intangible quality to rise to the moment and not let it be too big for them," he said. "When we looked at the stats from the Elite 8 game, their efficiency improved every quarter. The season was on the line (down 1 point after three quarters), and they responded with a 21-8 fourth quarter in the biggest eight minutes of the year. That kind of mental toughness is something we can’t coach.
"We keep saying that they are 12 strong, whether it is practice or games. They are all in on wanting to be their absolute best and support each other every day to reach that goal." 

  • Associated Categories: Sports, High School Sports
  • Associated Tags: High school basketball, north forsyth girls basketball
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