It's a good thing that Page girls basketball coach Rodney Westmoreland never concerns himself too much with his team's play on offense.
If he did, he may have decided to skip the second half and missed his team's come-from-behind 58-44 win Thursday night over North Forsyth in a Metro 4-A conference semifinal.East Forsyth boys coach Donnie Holt, on the other hand, probably wishes he had stayed behind when his Eagles took the court for the second half against North Forsyth's boys. Unfortunately for Holt, he was right there on the bench as East came undone - scoring just six points in the third quarter - and falling 76-65.
Page (20-4) advances to tonight's 6 o'clock girls final against Dudley, while North Forsyth's (16-8) boys take on Smith at 7:45 p.m. in the other championship.
At halftime of both games the victors - especially North Forsyth's boys - looked to be serious candidates to watch tonight's finals from the stands. Even while grabbing a 14-10 first-quarter lead, Page was cold.
In the second period, the Pirates went into the freezer all together, scoring just eight points to fall behind 24-22 at halftime.
Westmoreland, who says he only worries about his team's defensive effort, still couldn't have been too happy with Page's offense.
But rather than fuss at his team during halftime for its shooting woes, he told it that a dose of defensive intensity was all that was needed to regain control.
``Our defense makes our offense,' he explained afterward. ``It creates most of our opportunities to score.'
He couldn't have been more right. The Pirates came out smokin' on defense in the third quarter and the baskets started coming in bushels - especially for senior center Nikki Robinson, who scored eight of her game-high 22 points in the frame.
Many of Robinson's points came courtesy of sophomore point guard Tory Grant, who needn't score to be an offensive force.
Off turnovers created by Page's defense and from the set offense, Grant picked North Forsyth apart in the second half with pinpoint passes.
In one fourth-quarter stretch, she drilled two passes from beyond the top of the key to Robinson for layups, the second of which pushed the Pirate lead to eight with just under six minutes remaining.
Less than a minute later, she hit in the lane to give Page a 47-36 advantage.
``Wherever (Robinson) is, she finds her,' Westmoreland said of Grant. ``I don't know how she finds her, but she sees the court real well. She's a very fundamentally sound player, especially for someone so young.'
Grant, who, says Westmoreland, would rather pass than shoot, can nonetheless do both. Her 3-point shot from the top of the key triggered a 9-2 run at the start of the third period that North Forsyth (19-6) coach Mike Muse cited as the difference.