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High school basketball: Dry spells doom North Hall girls, boys in doubleheader sweep by Walnut Grove
North Hall's Amelia Shoemaker (1) puts up a shot against Walnut Grove on Feb. 7, 2023 in Gainesville. Photo by Lee Heard For The Times

Ill-timed scoring droughts proved to be costly for both North Hall’s girls and boys during their Region 8-4A crossover doubleheader against Walnut Grove on Tuesday night at Lynn Cottrell Court.

The Lady  Trojans did not score in the final 3:25 of their game, allowing Teairra Kelley and the Lady Warriors to pull away for a 56-49 victory.

In the boys game, North Hall trailed by just four points with 3:05 remaining in the third quarter, but didn’t score again for more than two and a half minutes, allowing Walnut Grove to put together an 11-2 run that pushed the game into double digits, and the Warriors pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 75-60 win.

The No. 9 North Hall girls (19-6, 12-3 in full region) actually had two other scoring droughts in their game – once being outscored 10-2 over the final 4:30 of the first half that turned a three-point lead into a 26-21 halftime deficit and the other during a 10-1 run midway though the third quarter that allowed ninth-ranked Walnut Grove (19-5, 12-2) to build its biggest lead of the game at 39-29 with 2:35 left in the period.

But each time, the Lady Trojans were able to break their slumps and shoot themselves back into the game.

“Our kids competed,” North Hall girls coach Eric Herrick said. “I can’t fault these kids at all. All they do is show up and compete.”

Athena Vachtsevanos broke the second slump with a 3-pointer from the right wing with 2:24 left in the quarter and seemed to light a spark under the Lady Trojans.

Lexi Jarrard and Amelia Shoemaker each followed with treys, and Shoemaker added a pair of free throws with 7.6 seconds left to cap an 8-1 run that send the two teams into the fourth quarter tied at 40-all.

After Shoemaker knocked down another 3-ball from the left wing to put North Hall in front 43-40 just 14 seconds into the final frame Kelley, who finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, began to assert her dominance in the paint.

With Lady Trojans post Genesis Satterfield on the bench in foul trouble, the 5-foot-10 sophomore responded with three straight stickbacks off offensive rebounds to lead an 8-2 run that vaulted Walnut Grove back in front at 48-45 after Dana Davis converted a loose ball into a layup with 4:18 remaining.

Once again, North Hall started to fight back after Satterfield returned to the court, with the 5-11 freshman converting a pair of passes from Rylee Thompson into layups that leapfrogged the Lady Trojans back in front at 49-48 with 3:25 to play.

A potential 3-pointer that could’ve extended the lead on their next possession bounced out after going part of the way down, but the Lady Trojans were dealt a bigger blow when Satterfield fouled out with 2:54 left.

Without her presence on the boards and in the paint to help open up some passing lanes in the perimeter, North Hall simply couldn’t find clean looks at the basket.

Meanwhile, Davis and Makayla Battle knocked down 3-pointers, and Kelley came out of a mad scramble with a loose ball for a layup with 24 seconds left that pushed the lead to three possessions and put the game away for Walnut Grove.

“They just made some winning plays late,” Herrick said of the Warriors. “They got a couple of loose balls, they got a couple of offensive rebounds. …  They made shots late, and we didn’t.”

Shoemaker led the way for North Hall with 17 points, including a trio of 3-pointers and going a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line, while Satterfield finished with 12 points and seven rebounds and Thompson contributed eight points, five assists and three steals.

The Lady Trojans will await the winner of Friday’s play-in game at East Forsyth between Cherokee Bluff and East Hall to see who their opponent will be for their quarterfinal game in the region tournament Monday at Lynn Cottrell Court.

Cameria Reed joined Kelley in double-figure scoring for Walnut Grove with 13 points and added eight rebounds.

North Hall’s (13-11, 7-8) boys faced an even more daunting task against Walnut Grove’s (13-12, 10-4) gigantic front line that included the 6-10 Alex Cannon, the 6-5 and Deston Christian and 6-6 reserve Dom Hyatt.

The result was only one basket in the opening six minutes for the  Trojans, while the Warriors led twice by 11 points in the first quarter before North Hall started to battle back.

After trailing 19-11 after one quarter, Korbyn Sosebee began to heat up from long range, draining a trio of shots behind the 3-point arc in a span of 1:17 to key a 9-2 run that pulled the Trojans to within 21-20 with 6:03 left in the first half.

Christian then started to take over by scoring eight points during a 13-6 run over the remainder of the first half to help Walnut Grove take a 34-26 lead into intermission.

He then added four more points to key a 6-0 run over the opening 34 seconds of the second half that pushed the Warriors lead to 40-26 with 7:26 left in the third quarter before North Hall slowly began to creep closer again.

This time it was Cason Payne who got hot, scoring eight of his team-high 14 points to ignite a 14-6 run over the next four and a half minutes.

And when Matthew Ray scored on an up-and-under move in the lane with 3:05 left in the quarter, the Trojans suddenly found themselves down just 46-42.

But Christian hit 1 of 2 free throws on Walnut Grove’s next possession, and threw down a dunk off a steal following a 3-pointer and driving layup from Cassius Hann that expanded the lead back into double figures, eventually reaching 57-44 by the end of the period, and North Hall never recovered.

“I’d say for the majority of the game, we did what we wanted to do,” said North Hall boys coach Miles Kendall, whose team will host Johnson in a region tournament play-in game Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Lynn Cottrell Court. “Sometimes it didn’t reflect in the score, and (Walnut Grove) had something to do with that. Their size and length bothered our shots. … I think we were doing really well until late in the third, that’s when it kind of got away from us.”

Sosebee (12 points, all on 3-pointers) and Cole Hulsey (13 points, 6 rebounds) joined Payne in double-figure scoring for the Trojans, who also got a defensive contributions from J.T. Chester with four steals.

But it wasn’t enough to overcome the onslaught led by Christian, who led Walnut Grove with 21 points, six rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot, and Cannon, who finished with 10 points, eight boards and three blocks. Hyatt also swatted five shots for the Warriors.

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