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Athlete of the Week: East Hall's J.C. Hampton
Finished with 37 points in come-from-behind win against St. Francis
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Kyle Kellam, Buford: 15 points, 11 rebounds and six steals in a win against Decatur.

Kaela Davis, Buford: 16 points in a win against Decatur.

Maegan Kenimer, Chestatee: 16 points in a loss to North Hall.

Cole Morgan, Chestatee: 20 points in a loss to North Hall.

Hayden Chapman, East Hall: 20 points in a win against St. Francis.

Tavia Sykes, Flowery Branch: 20 points in a win against Madison County; 23 in a win in overtime against North Hall.

Cara Chilton, Flowery Branch: 22 points in a win against North Hall.

Shaquan Cantrell, Gainesville: 18 points and six rebounds in a win against West Hall; 20 points, six rebounds and four steals in a win against Oconee County.

Ty Odem, Johnson: 17 points in a loss to West Hall.

A.J. Benefield, Johnson: 13 points and 11 rebounds in a loss to West Hall on Friday.

Montrell McKenzie, Johnson: 13 points and 11 rebounds in a loss to West Hall; 16 points and 19 rebounds in a loss to Monroe Area.

Lyndsey Pethel, Johnson: 31 points with nine boards in a win against Monroe Area.

Austin Pearson, Lakeview Academy: 29 points in a win against Tallulah Falls.

Julianne Sutton, North Georgia Christian: 15 points and 20 rebounds in a win against Cumberland Christian.

Dylan Boonstra, North Georgia Christian: 15 points, five rebounds and two steals in a loss to Cumberland Christian.

McKenna Rushton, North Hall: 21 points in a win against Chestatee.

Taylor Swoszowski, North Hall: Seven points, 10 assists and seven steals in a win against Chestatee.

Ebo Smith, North Hall: 18 points in a win against Chestatee.

Adam Kelly, North Hall: 16 points in a win against Flowery Branch.

Rebecka Merritt, Union County: 16 points and topped 1,000 career points in a win against Andrews (N.C.); 18 points in a win against Hayesville (N.C.).

Rhett McCombs, Union County: 36 points in a win against Andrews (N.C.); 14 points in a loss to Hayesville (N.C.).

A.J. Stephens, West Hall: 19 points in a loss to Gainesville.

Tyswon Cantrell, West Hall: 17 points in a loss to Gainesville; 15 points in a win against Johnson.

Rico Jones, West Hall: 16 points in a win against Johnson.

Kaelyn Gattis, West Hall: 15 points and five rebounds in a win against Johnson.

Brooke Reed, West Hall: 17 points in a win against Lanier.

According to his coach, senior J.C. Hampton is already in the upper echelon of players in East Hall's long and rich history. His performance last week only served to further prove that point.

"J.C. sets the tone for our team," Vikings coach Joe Dix said. "For good or bad, he's going to be our leader.

"I put him up there with the guys in the 2,000-point club that came through the program like Walter (Hill), Frank (Davis), Chezley (Watson) and Matt Causey in terms of his talent."

Friday's 37-point showing for Hampton against St. Francis, an 86-82 win, was not only amazing due to his offensive production, but also for his steadiness in the face of adversity down the stretch.

Trailing by eight points with two minutes remaining, Hampton helped steer the game back in East Hall's direction with a 3-pointer and a pair of pull-up jump shots.

Then with the deficit just three points, Hampton completed a three-point play at the free throw line to tie it at 73-73.

"J.C. is just so intense and focused on the floor," Dix added. "He stepped up huge in a hostile road environment."

For his efforts, Hampton is The Times Athlete of the Week.

Hampton, who Dix said is averaging 30 points per game this season, was balanced in his scoring with 18 in the first half and 19 in the second against St. Francis, then followed it up with 18 points Saturday night against subregion rival Banks County.

The Vikings guard takes his responsibility to keep the program playing at a high level seriously.

He said that losing the Lanierland championship game 92-62 against Gainesville was a wake-up call that will carry into the second half of the season.

"I know that it's a privilege to get to play basketball at East Hall," Hampton said. "We just want to keep getting better as a team and stay focused on what we have to do."

Even with the game against St. Francis tied after Hampton's key shots, Dix said his senior captain made his most quick-thinking decision after the Knights tied it again late with a 3-pointer.

That's when Hampton took the ensuing inbound pass and hurled it down the court to an open Hayden Chapman, who drained a pair of free throws after drawing an intentional foul.

Hampton also hit his own pair of foul shots, as a result of a technical foul, to secure victory for the Vikings.

"I think what sets J.C. apart is his basketball I.Q.," Dix said. "He's gone to camp with us since the sixth grade and we could tell early he was going to be special."

One game in particular that caught the eye of the Dix came that first summer when Hampton was in middle school.

During summer camp, Dix threw Hampton out on the floor to play against the Brookwood junior varsity squad, and he responded with 30 points. Even at that age, Hampton had a solid grasp on how to run the Vikings' detailed offense.

"I remember that game and how I was a little nervous at first," Hampton said. "But after a while, the guys on the team from Brookwood didn't seem so big anymore."

This week, the Vikings (6-4, 1-0 Region 8A-AA) travel to Anchorage, Ak., for the Alaska Airlines Classic on Thursday through Saturday.

One of the draws for East Hall to play in the tournament is the talent that it brings in, including four players that stand at least 6-foot-11 from Arlington Country Day out of Jacksonville, Fla.

"We're really excited to be headed to Alaska to play all of the good teams that will be there," Hampton said.

Hampton is still undecided where he is going to play in college. According to Dix, he is drawing interest from South Carolina, Clemson and Georgia State, among others.


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