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North Hall girls' rally falls short against Woodward Academy, 64-62

Lady War Eagles to face Buford in Elite 8; Lady Trojans' season comes to a close

POSTED: February 24, 2014 8:52 p.m.

COLLEGE PARK — North Hall’s girls basketball team played with all the heart and effort its coach Kristi House could have hoped for in Monday’s second-round playoff game at Woodward Academy.

Sadie Cleveland was strong shooting for the Lady Trojans (19-10) all night and scored 19, while her older sister Sydney was a steady inside presence with 13 points. However, Woodward Academy senior Alex Williams hit her stride in the fourth quarter with 18 of her game-high 28 points, meaning the end of North Hall’s season with a 64-62 loss in College Park.

“I was happy with the heart our girls played with and handled it well in a big environment,” House said. “They left it out there on the court.”

It was still a satisfying postseason for the Lady Trojans after entering the playoffs with the difficult No. 4 seed. North Hall upset a No. 1 seed Sonoraville in the opening round last Friday. North Hall was mighty close to pulling another upset in the second round. The Lady Trojans ran off a seven-point scoring run early in the third quarter, building their biggest lead of the game at 39-28 with 6:02 left in the period.

Katie Sayres got it started with a 3-pointer, followed by two baskets off the rebound by Sydney Cleveland.

The Lady War Eagles found a way to chip away at the deficit when Ashari Hankerson twice stepped in between North Hall passes and took it in for a basket.

The Lady Trojans continued to play aggressive even as their lead started to shrink, though. Kensi Gillespie answered with a 3-pointer after Williams completed a 3-point play at the foul line for Woodward.

Williams started to take control late in the third period with physical rebounding, twice making shots off a miss, to bring Lady War Eagles within a basket.

Woodward Academy took its first lead in the second half as Cheyenne Arthur hit a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter, 45-44.

The tight struggle continued during an intense fourth quarter.

Trailing 62-58 in the final quarter, Sadie Cleveland helped the Lady Trojans rally with consecutive baskets to get within a point. Williams went to the foul line and made 1 of 2 shots after each of the Lady Trojans’ baskets.

Williams finished the game 10 of 15 on free throws for Woodward Academy.

Down by two points with only :07 left on the game clock, North Hall’s shooter missed a 3-pointer. The Lady War Eagles rebounded and threw deep down the court to run out the clock.

North Hall trailed for the majority of the first quarter. Down 18-12 early in the second, Sadie Cleveland took the long pass down court for an easy basket, followed by 3-pointers from both Taylor Anne Kelley and Gillespie.

Gillespie finished the game with 16 points, 12 off of 3-pointers.

Tied 28-28 late in the first half, Gillespie and Sadie Cleveland both added baskets off turnovers in transition to take a 32-28 lead into halftime.

After the seven-straight points scored by the Lady Trojans to open the third period, Madison Richardson hit a long 3 for Woodward Academy, followed by Williams’ basket and foul shot.

Despite building a big lead in the second half, House said there was never any time to settle into a comfort zone, knowing how strong of a player the Mercer-bound Williams is for Woodward.

“In the end, it came down to not executing,” House said.

With the loss, North Hall’s season is finished. Woodward Academy advances to face Buford in the state quarterfinals on Wednesday in Gwinnett County.


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