By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
East Hall girls basketball snaps playoff drought with 63-52 win over Hart County
Ivey Shadburn notches career-high 24 points and six 3-pointers to pace Lady Vikings
01192018 BASKETBALL 0002.jpg
East Hall head coach Justin Wheeler cheers on his team during the Region 7-3A game between North Hall and East Hall in Gainesville, on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018. - photo by David Barnes

Even from her days as a ripe freshman on East Hall High girls basketball team, Ivey Shadburn understood the expectations were high.

As a new addition to a program that had just come off a state final four run in 2015, Shadburn quickly realized she had some big shoes to fill. And given their playoff lull in the two years to follow, Shadburn hoped that someday her group would be the one to pay homage to the group three years ago.

She and her teammates gave back in a big way Friday night.

Shadburn racked up a career-high 24 points, including six 3-pointers, while two other starters cracked double-figures as East Hall defeated Hart County, 63-52, to advance in the Class 3A tournament for the first time since 2015.

“It feels pretty good,” said Shadburn, whose flame burned the brightest in a first-round contest that saw both squads trade big scoring runs throughout. “Being on this team since freshman year, we had big standards to uphold. This is kind of us giving back.”

With the win, the No. 2 seeded Lady Vikings (17-12) will visit No. 1 seed Lovett, which defeated Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 52-27, in the second round next Thursday at a time to be determined.

East Hall coach Justin Wheeler indicated last week that his current bunch would be playing with house money beyond region tournament play. His Lady Vikings pulled out all the stops to notch their first postseason victory in three years.

After falling behind by double digits early, East Hall went on an offensive rampage, outscoring Hart County 33-6 in the final 11 minutes, 32 seconds of the first half to jump ahead for good. On defense, East Hall generated 14 turnovers — 11 in the first half — to keep Hart County chasing.

The Lady Vikings paired a sound defensive effort with some crucial baskets down the stretch to offset a spirited second-half comeback by the No. 3 seeded Bulldogs, who behind junior Torrion Starks to gradually trim a 17-point deficit down to one with less than seven minutes to play.

The Bulldogs were also paced by Taniya Alexander, who recorded a double-double of 16 points and 10 boards.

“We got down early, and we didn’t quit,” East Hall girls coach Justin Wheeler said. “We didn’t get our heads down, and acted like we didn’t know what the score was. We kept playing basketball, and that’s what you want.”

Starks was seemingly everywhere for Hart County (19-9). The shifty junior point guard scored 22 of a game-high 28 points in the second half, padding it with five steals.

“She’s just naturally has an instinct for the game,” Wheeler said of Starks. “When girls like that have it, there’s not much you can do.”

Hart County pounced first from the opening top, as Starks scored off a steal and then assisted another basket with an impressive behind-the-back pass during an 11-2 Bulldogs run lasting the majority of the period. East Hall also turned it over four times in that span before Jenny Lopez made a short-range jumper at the 4:55 mark for the Vikings’ first basket.

And then the flood gates opened for East Hall. 

Shadburn put the team on her shoulders, as the junior guard drilled three straight from beyond the arc to start, then banked another inside the paint to launch the Lady Vikings out front on a 14-0 run to end the first period. She added two more 3-pointers and was assisted by Lopez on another basket inside the paint to cap East Hall's mammoth scoring run.

“She’s our little spark plug,” Wheeler said of Shadburn. “I started realizing she’s really good in our press, and we like to have her in the game. ...The icing on the cake is, she got the 3. ...She’s a really good player in our system, and she had a heck of a game.”

East Hall finished with 13 made 3-pointers, getting two apiece from Carly Winters (16 points) and Maggie Griffin (10) and one from Lopez (seven points). The Lady Vikings even got one from sophomore Carly Cox, who gave East Hall a 35-16 lead with seconds remaining in the first half.

“It feels really good to make it, since it hadn’t happened the last three years,” said Winters, who beside Lopez, Summer Lindsey and Griffin helped close the game from the free-throw line in the final minutes. We were all playing together.”

Friends to Follow social media