Spartans advance to second round

South Caldwell’s Olivia Miller (3) shoots over West Forsyth’s Brianna Shillito (15) during Tuesday night’s game in Sawmills. Miller, Kaitlyn Propst and Faith Curtis scored 10 points each for the Spartans.

SAWMILLS — Old-school halfcourt basketball and a deliberate pace sent 4A West No. 2 seed South Caldwell into the second round of the state tournament after Tuesday’s 45-38 win over wildcard West Forsyth.

The Spartans (7-6) opened the game on a 10-4 run and kept the Titans off balance by not pushing the ball up the floor. Leading 10-6 with 1:43 remaining in the first quarter, South Caldwell point guard Kaitlyn Propst dribbled the ball for more than a minute and a half just inside half court with West Forsyth sitting back in a zone and unwilling to come to the ball. With 10 seconds left, the Spartans went into their offense, and Propst found Katlyn Wynn on an old-fashioned backdoor cut and layup at the buzzer that gave the Spartans a 12-6 lead through one.

South Caldwell stayed with the methodical pace even as West Forsyth cranked up the pressure on defense early in the second quarter. When the Titans would get within reach, the Spartans found a way to push back. West Forsyth cut South Caldwell’s lead to five at 17-12 when Faith Curtis hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put the Spartans back up by eight. The Titans scored at the buzzer ending the first half, but South Caldwell led 22-17 at the break.

West Forsyth put together its best threat in the third, tying the game at 24-24 when Olivia Miller hit a clutch jumper that put the Spartans up 26-24, followed by another 3 from Curtis that gave South Caldwell a five-point lead. Miller would hit another jumper late in the period to give the Spartans a 31-24 advantage heading into the final period.

The Titans, who end their season with a mark of 10-4, returned to the press to start the fourth quarter and had a chance to take the lead with 3:49 left to play, trailing 31-30, but West Forsyth turned the ball over. Miller scored another bucket that gave the Spartans a 33-30 lead. The Titans would not go quietly into that good night, staying within reach until Kaylee Anderson hit a big 3-pointer with a minute and a half left to put South Caldwell back up by six, sparking an 11-2 run late in the fourth that gave them a 10-point lead with 11.6 seconds left. Shakira Baskerville hit a 3-pointer as time expired to make the final margin seven points.

Propst, Miller and Curtis scored 10 points each to lead South Caldwell, followed by Wynn with eight points and Anderson with seven. Baskerville scored a game-high 29 points for the Titans.

With the win, the Spartans will host 10th-seeded Lake Norman, which upset No. 7 Myers Park 49-47 on Tuesday. That game is set for 7 p.m., tonight.

In other playoff action Tuesday, West Caldwell’s boys defeated Ashe County 66-54 in the 2A state tournament. The 13th-seeded Warriors (8-2) will visit No. 5 Mountain Heritage, a 50-43 winner over No. 12 Salisbury, at 7 p.m., tonight. The Cougars are 12-0 on the season.