For the Chestatee girls basketball team, Monday night’s regular season finale held a special significance.
It was senior night, sure, but with the Lady War Eagles’ 48-44 win against North Hall at home, they earned the program’s first 20-win season in its short history.
“It’s always good to have a rivalry game at the end of the year,” Chestatee coach Web Daniel said. “But the girls had something more than that to play for tonight and did really well against a great team.”
Chestatee (20-4, 11-1 Region 7A-AAA) had to overcome a late-game deficit and a resilient Lady Trojans team in order to make history.
Down four points in the fourth quarter, Peyton Robertson scored six straight, including the game-winner with 25 seconds remaining.
Robertson finished with 10 of her game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter. She also had eight rebounds for the Lady War Eagles.
“She stepped up tonight,” Daniel said. “She took over in the timeout huddle and demanded the ball. She wanted to be the one to win it.”
Both teams were clearly geared up to play after inclement weather twice postponed a game that was originally scheduled for last Friday.
The Lady Trojans (15-9, 7-5) shot 56 percent from the field for the game while Chestatee shot 76 percent.
The hot shooting resulted in a back-and-forth contest until the third quarter when an 11-0 run by North Hall gave the Lady Trojans the game’s biggest lead at 34-27.
North Hall senior Taylor Bishop sparked the run hitting two 3-pointers split by a stop and pop from just inside the free-throw line by McKenna Rushton.
Bishop finished with 11 points for North Hall while Rushton had a team-high 17 points and five rebounds.
Chestatee responded, however, scoring five straight to end the third quarter, capped by a deep 3-pointer by senior Shelby Bright.
“She’s a shooter,” Daniel said. “She’s always just jacking it up there and I was surprised that it took her as long to shoot that one as it did.”
The fourth quarter was one in which both teams were on the brink.
Chestatee’s Melissa Bailey, who finished with six points and six rebounds, tied the game at 34, a little more than a minute into the fourth quarter only to have Rushton respond with a 3-pointer on North Hall’s next possession.
The teams traded baskets with North Hall going up by three points only to have Chestatee respond immediately, cutting it to one.
The Lady Trojans took their biggest lead of the fourth quarter at 44-40 on a 3-pointer by Tiffany Hamilton with three minutes remaining, and that’s when Robertson took over.
The junior made two layups and two free throws, and when North Hall missed a last-second layup attempt and senior Chelsea Wilson secured the rebound, the Lady War Eagles had their 20-win season.
Wilson finished with nine points and four rebounds on the night, while Rachel Kelley had eight points and three rebounds for Chestatee.
“We didn’t panic,” Daniel said. “We knew what we had to do late in the game to get this win.
“I’ll tell you though, (North Hall coach Bryan Richerson) did a great job tonight and had a great gameplan for us.”
Both teams return to action in the Region 7-AAA tournament which begins with boys games Wednesday.
Chestatee has a first-round bye and will play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Chestatee.
North Hall will play at 5 p.m. Thursday.
NORTH HALL BOYS 80, CHESTATEE 48
Kanlor Coker scored 18 points and Chris Barnes had 17 to lead North Hall to a win Monday night at Chestatee High.
The Trojans (21-3, 11-1 Region 7A-AAA) were clicking on both ends of the floor and held a nine-point lead after the first quarter.
And, after holding the War Eagles to just five points in the second quarter, held a 40-19 advantage at halftime.
Imani Cross scored eight points for North Hall, Chase Syfan had nine points and point guard Lance White had five assists and four steals.
Chestatee (10-15, 5-7) was led by Preston Smith with 18 points and Lamar Brooks with 13.
North Hall returns to action in the Region 7-AAA tournament at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Chestatee will play in the first round of the tournament at 5 p.m. Wednesday.