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Carly Winters clutch 3-pointer seals Lanierland title game berth for East Hall girls basketball
Lady Vikings will face Flowery Branch in Wednesday's championship game
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Gainesville's Shikiya Brown (21) goes up for a shot while being guarded by East Hall's Ashlyn Ellison (11) during Tuesday's semifinal game at Lanierland at East Hall High School. - photo by Erin O. Smith

2015 Lanierland Tournament 
Wednesday at East Hall High
Final round

10:30 a.m. - West Hall girls vs. Johnson

Noon - Lakeview Academy girls vs. Chestatee

1:30 p.m. - Lakeview Academy boys vs. Johnson

3 p.m. - North Hall girls vs. Gainesville

4:30 p.m. - North Hall boys vs. West Hall

Championship games

6 p.m. - East Hall girls vs. Flowery Branch

7:30 p.m. - East Hall boys vs. Flowery Branch

2015 Lanierland Tournament 
Tuesday at East Hall High
Second round

10:30 a.m. – Lakeview Academy girls 77, West Hall 54

Noon – Chestatee girls 42, Johnson 26

1:30 p.m. – Johnson boys 72, Chestatee 58

3 p.m. – Flowery Branch girls 66, North Hall 34

Flowery Branch advances to the Lanierland title game Wednesday at East Hall High vs. East Hall

4:30 p.m. – East Hall boys 76, North Hall 73 (2OT)

East Hall advances to the Lanierland title game Wednesday at East Hall High vs. Flowery Branch. 

6 p.m. – East Hall girls 44, Gainesville 41

East Hall advances to the Lanierland title game Wednesday at East Hall High vs. Flowery Branch.  

7:30 p.m. – Flowery Branch boys 59, West Hall 47

Flowery Branch advances to the Lanierland title game Wednesday at East Hall High vs. East Hall

The play had broken down. East Hall looked destined to head into overtime against rival Gainesville in Tuesday’s semifinal at the Lanierland tournament.

Then, Carly Winters stepped up.

With two seconds on the clock in the fourth quarter, East Hall’s unflappable sharpshooter nailed one of the most clutch 3-pointers of her high school career to help the Vikings top the Red Elephants 44-41 and secure a berth in the championship game tonight at East Hall High.

“It felt right,” said Winters, smiling. “The team counts on me to make shots and it’s really important to me.”

The Vikings (11-2) will next play undefeated Flowery Branch (13-0) at 6 p.m. Wednesday at East Hall High. The Lady Falcons topped North Hall 66-34 earlier in the day.

Vikings coach Justin Wheeler breathed a sigh of relief when the well-planned play he had wanted to set up fell apart from the inbounds. Kylah Mize got trapped in the backcourt, forcing her to improvise in order to get across the halfway line.

Mize tossed a crisp pass to Jenny Edwards, who was trailing under the basket, but she was forced to recycle it around the arc. That’s when Ashlyn Ellison spotted Winters in isolation on the right edge.

“Ashlyn’s always good about finding me,” said Winters. “I shot it and it just went in for me. It felt good to know I could come back and do that after having only an OK game.”

Prior to her game-winning shot, Winters had hit just one from beyond the arc all game. She finished with 12 points, Ellison led with 13 points and Mize had 11.

Gainesville’s Taylor Hawks led all scorers with 14 points, while Shikiya Brown had 12.

The Lady Red Elephants (7-3) led 38-35 with 5:35 left to play, but a breakaway layup by Ellison and a smart shot by Edwards in the paint a minute later helped tie the game at 41-all heading into the final play.

The Lady Vikings went up 20-11 early in the second quarter thanks to an 11-2 run that was bolstered by Winters’ initial trey. Brown hit a smooth stepback 3-pointer at the buzzer that cut the lead to 23-21 at halftime and ended a 6-0 Gainesville streak heading into the locker rooms.

And Hawks was responsible for a slicing drive to the basket late in the third that gave the Lady Red Elephants a one-point lead entering the final frame.

But once East Hall picked up steam in the final five minutes, not even East Hall’s most busted play could fail.

“It was definitely her most clutch shot,” said Wheeler. “Like a quarterback, we depend on her to have a short memory. She came up great for us.”

Coming off of East Hall’s most exciting victory this season, Winters said it would be a challenge to keep a calm head entering tonight’s title game.

“We’ve got to be mentally prepared for it and cool back down,” she said.

FLOWERY BRANCH GIRLS 66, NORTH HALL 34: Taniyah Worth’s best play during Flowery Branch’s rout of North Hall wasn’t even a basket.

Responding to her team’s full-court press on an inbounds pass in the third quarter, Worth (18 points) picked up a loose pass, drove inside the paint and dished to a wide-open Julianne Sutton to sink the easiest layup of the game.

The sophomore’s vision and quick reflexes put Flowery Branch (13-0) back in the Lanierland title game where it will face East Hall at 6 p.m. tonight at East Hall High.

The Lady Falcons fell to Gainesville in last year’s championship game, but showed no mercy in Tuesday’s semifinal against the Lady Trojans (5-4) in their return to the top.

“We’ll have the same mindset,” said Worth, who had nine points in last year’s title game. “It’s a good feeling to be back, but we have to play harder and focus the entire game.”

Worth was dialed in, especially during the second quarter where she chipped in eight of Flowery Branch’s 17-2 run to finish off the first half.

Trailing 9-2 within the opening four minutes of the first quarter, the Lady Falcons roared back with an 11-0 streak to take a lead they would never concede.

Flowery Branch crashed the paint on every opportunity, allowing the tall combination of Worth and Sutton to work their magic on the boards.

“(Worth’s) pretty special,” said first-year Flowery Branch coach Courtney Newton. “She brings a lot of athleticism to the team and she’s hard to guard. Things work out when you’re the most athletic kid on the floor.”

Flowery Branch led 32-13 at halftime. The Lady Falcons scored 17 points in each of their final three quarters.

Sutton scored 10 of her 16 points for Flowery Branch in the first half, while teammate Kierra Knight contributed eight points.

North Hall was led by Taylor Anne Kelley with nine points. The Lady Trojans, who trailed by as many as 38 late in the fourth quarter, were held to just four points in the second quarter. Laken Sears sank two of North Hall’s four 3-pointers in the final frame.

Newton said her team hasn’t talked about last year’s title game loss, but said the Lady Falcons would only look toward the next contest.

“They’re playing one game at a time,” said Newton. “You’ve got to check them off.”

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