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Girls Athlete of the Week: East Hall's Chelsea Dale

POSTED: January 22, 2014 8:27 p.m.

The East Hall Lady Vikings had an admittedly rough start to the season, but first-year coach Justin Wheeler made some adjustments over winter break and the team has come back ready to compete.

After playing in a tournament in Charleston before the holidays, the East Hall girls began to gel as a team, and Wheeler’s simple game plan became an effective method of attack.

“We played well in Charleston, and we just hoped we could keep playing well at home,” Wheeler said. “We changed things up in practice a bit before Christmas, and we’ve been sticking with it. It’s just fundamentals.”

The holiday tournament was also a turning point for junior Chelsea Dale, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player and has been on a roll since.

“I liked going to that tournament because we didn’t know what to expect from the teams,” Dale said. “Everyone is usually guarding me and knowing where I am, but they didn’t so I had confidence in my shooting and I was really on.”

Since the Lady Vikings returned from break, they’ve seen more success on the court, beating many Region 7-AAA teams and playing close games in tough losses.

On Saturday, East Hall defeated Fannin County and then went on to beat rival North Hall on Tuesday, thanks in part to Dale’s shooting.

Dale scored 20 points to lead the Lady Vikings against Fannin County and notched 15 against North Hall.

For her efforts, Dale is The Times’ Girls Athlete of the Week.

“Our ability to get to the basket has been opening up lanes for her,” Wheeler said. “Our team has a good understanding of who does what, and that is (when Dale) is open, you need to find her because she can shoot.”

Wheeler noted that all the players have realized they have potential when they work together, which has made a dramatic difference on the score sheet and in practice.

“I realized when I first got to East Hall that we’ve got some pieces and some talent, all we have to do it put it together,” Wheeler said. “We haven’t been doing anything that’s rocket science. I just look for them to do the small things.”

In addition to the small things, the Lady Vikings have started looking for other ways to improve now that they know they have a chance to compete in Region 7-AAA. Wheeler said that Dale has improved tremendously on defense as well, which helps the team.

“We do a lot of constructive criticism, and defense is my weakness,” Dale said. “The team is only as strong as the weakest link, and I felt like I was the weakest link on defense, so I knew I had to step up my game.”

Heading into the upcoming game against Dawson County on Friday, East Hall is eager to see what it can do on the court against a solid team.

“They want to prove that they can compete and win in this region,” Wheeler said. “They’re starting to take it personally after the way we started the season.”

Wheeler and Dale agree that Dawson County will be a challenge, but the Lady Vikings are preparing for it.

“I’m going to have to step up on offense,” Dale said. “I can’t wait for (others) to drive; I have to drive to the basket.”

With players like Dale, Jatasia Bailey, Jenny Edwards and others, the Lady Vikings know they can play a close game.

“It will be tough, but we will have to adjust,” Wheeler said. “It will be a challenge, but it’s always fun to overcome that.”


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