Class 7A blog: Depth, chemistry make North Forsyth girls a contender

Photo illustration of a basketball goal.

caption arrowCaption
Photo illustration of a basketball goal.

North Forsyth’s girls basketball team has knocked on the door of a state title the past four years, reaching the semifinals in 2018 and 2019 and the quarterfinals in 2020 and 2021.

With five senior starters back this season and no super team in the field, the Raiders might have their best chance yet for the program’s first championship. North Forsyth is 15-3 overall, ranked No. 3 in Class 7A and undefeated against Georgia opponents.

“Now it’s anybody’s game,’’ said Brad Kudlas, in his 16th season with the program, third as head coach. “It’s really hard to pick somebody this season, which makes it fun. It’s going to be who’s hot at the time.’’

That’s the way it was last season, when Marietta won five playoff games by five points or less to win its first title in history in 70 years. For the previous 15 seasons, the highest class had been won almost exclusively by teams that were nationally ranked and led by major Division I prospects from Collins Hill’s Maya Moore to Westlake’s Raven Johnson.

Those teams don’t exist in 7A this year. That’s why North Forsyth’s chemistry and depth are so compelling. The five starters have played together since middle school, but they’ve got plenty of help. The Raiders’ bench is averaging 29 points, just below the starters’ 32 points per game. Only one player averages as many as 10 points per game.

“The rest are 7′s and 6′s,’’ Kudlas said. “It’s probably the deepest team we’ve ever had. Most teams when you’re writing up a scouting report, you talk about five or six players, maybe seven. With us, you talk about 10 because anybody can have a big night. That’s nice, but it’s a double-edged sword. Trying to get everyone playing time is tough sometimes.’’

Anna Gliatta, the point guard, is the scoring leader, averaging right at 10 points per game. She’s a slasher and a good 3-point shooter.

Hailim Adle, who is committed to Alabama-Huntsville, is perhaps the most versatile and consistent player, showing it high on the team in rebounds, assists, steals and defensive deflections and scoring points at the rim.

Leah Hall is the team’s defensive specialist, usually covering the opposing team’s best guard or wing. She’s also a good rebounder

Ali Jones is the team’s best 3-point shooter. She’s made 42 at a 44% success race.

Maddie Erickson is a 6-foot-1 post player committed to Flagler. She’s the team’s defensive floor general and top rebounder. She holds the school record for blocked shots.

Off the bench, Erin Whalen has multiple double-doubles. Meredith Franklin has developed into a floor leader and shutdown defender. Kamryn Gardner has become a quick-burst scorer. Freshman London Weaver is putting up points in clutch situations, and Lindsey Pirkle is getting into the rotation and finding her rhythm in the post after suffering an ankle injury.

caption arrowCaption
North Forsyth's girls basketball team is 15-3 and ranked No. 3 in Class 7A.

Credit: North Forsyth

North Forsyth's girls basketball team is 15-3 and ranked No. 3 in Class 7A.

Credit: North Forsyth

caption arrowCaption
North Forsyth's girls basketball team is 15-3 and ranked No. 3 in Class 7A.

Credit: North Forsyth

Credit: North Forsyth

“We’re just a team that gets after it,’’ Kudlas said. “We’ll full-court press. We like to run tempo. We like having a shot clock. We get the shot off. We run, run, run, run. When you’ve got as many players as we do, you want to shoot quickly. It’s the only way to get them shots because we’ve got a lot of good shooters.’’

North Forsyth’s only losses came on a Florida road trip after Christmas. Kudlas said the team ‘’laid a goose egg’' but got better and more motivated from the 0-for-3 experience against teams from Tennessee, Ohio and Alabama.

In Georgia, North Forsyth has victories over No. 4 Norcross, No. 5 South Forsyth, No. 6 West Forsyth and No. 9 Cherokee in 7A, plus No. 1 River Ridge of 6A.

It’s notable that three Forsyth County schools are in the top six, all in the same region. No Forsyth team has won a state title, though North is one of four that have made the quarterfinals or better since 2014.

It feels like a matter of time.

“There’s a changing mindset on our team, even in the county,’’ he said. “Before, it was like we want to make the final four. Now, it’s we want to win it all. We feel they can compete with the Cobbs and Gwinnetts. It’s fun seeing basketball grow in Forsyth County.’’

About the Author

Editors' Picks