Saying a silent prayer
On Tuesday night, the North Hall girls defense was good, but Chestatee’s was a little better.
The Lady Trojans made shots, but Class AAA’s sixth-ranked Lady War Eagles made more and while North Hall rebounded well, Chestatee grabbed just a few more in its 45-34 win at North Hall High.
With the win, Chestatee’s ninth in a row, the Lady War Eagles (12-3, 5-0 Region 7A-AAA) maintain their top spot in the subregion standings.
Using a 2-2-1 full-court zone, Chestatee caused 16 North Hall turnovers and held the Lady Trojans 15 points below their scoring average of 49.
The Lady War Eagles also managed to keep each Lady Trojans’ scorer in double digits.
“We played pretty good defense tonight and we’re proud of the girls effort,” Chestatee coach Web Daniel said.
North Hall’s defensive effort was nothing to scoff at as it kept Chestatee leaders Chelsea Wilson and Peyton Robertson in check.
Using the same triangle-and-two defense that stifled Gainesville in the Lanierland finals, the Lady Trojans (15-5, 4-2) limited Wilson and Robertson’s looks and held them to five and eight points respectively.
“We did what we were supposed to do and followed through with our gameplan,” North Hall coach Bryan Richerson said. “But we failed to do the little things, that’s what it was.
“Missing a box out, leaving someone open, not talking on a screen; we were missing the little things.”
One of the little things referred to by Richerson was rebounding, an aspect of the game that both Robertson — who had 10 on the night — and her Lady War Eagles’ teammates excelled in, outrebounding North Hall 24-16 for the game.
“It’s been a tough week and isn’t going to get any easier,” said Richerson of his team, which has lost three of its last four games and next travels to Jasper to take on the third-ranked Pickens Lady Dragons. “We’re in a tough region and our girls have got to bring it everyday.
“It doesn’t get any easier for us.”
Tuesday night’s game was marked by runs.
Chestatee opened up on a 9-2 run capped by a steal and two converted free throws by Robertson only to have North Hall come storming back to tie it at 12 with just over six minutes to play in the first half on a layup by McKenna Rushton.
With 3:20 remaining in the first half, North Hall took only its second, and what would be its last, lead of the game at 14-12 on a layup by Mary Kate Rushton.
The Lady Trojans finished the half turning the ball over on four straight possessions while Chestatee went on a 10-0 run sparked by a Wilson layup and capped by a pass from her to fellow senior Shelby Bright for a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.
With Robertson and Wilson, who combined for just six of the Lady War Eagles’ 22 points at halftime, being played man-to-man, someone had to step up and juniors Melissa Bailey and Brooke Peck answered the call.
Bailey had five of her game-high 11 points by halftime along with three offensive rebounds and Peck hit two big 3-pointers in the first half on her way to being the team’s second leading scorer with nine points for the game.
“Our shooting was big for us tonight,” said Daniel of his team which hit six 3-pointers in the game. “Melissa (Bailey) is always a key player for us and she didn’t disappoint tonight and Brooke is a shooter.
“We knew she was going to eventually have a good game and this was it.”
North Hall opened the second half on another run, pulling to within three points at 25-22 thanks in large part to two straight 3-pointers by Taylor Swoszowski.
She finished as the team’s leading scorer with nine points while McKenna Rushton had eight points and six rebounds.
The Lady Trojans tied it at 32 with just under six minutes remaining in the game on four straight points by Shakeyla Rucker but Chestatee answered once again in resounding fashion, finishing the game on a 13-2 run in which junior point guard Diana Porras was 5 of 7 from the free throw line.
Both teams return to action at 7 p.m. Friday with Chestatee playing host to Gilmer and North Hall travelling to Pickens.
NORTH HALL BOYS 86, CHESTATEE 49: Led by Chris Barnes’ 24 points on 8 of 10 from behind the 3-point line, Class AAA’s eighth-ranked Trojans cruised to a win Tuesday night at North Hall High.
The win gives North Hall (12-2, 4-1 Region 7A-AAA) sole possession of first place in the subregion standings and was the 200th career win for fourth-year coach Benjie Wood.
The Trojans jumped out to a 23-10 advantage by the end of the first quarter sparked by 10 points by senior Robby Hill.
Hill finished with 12 points in the first half before leaving the game with an injury.
North Hall held a 42-29 lead at halftime and outscored Chestatee 21-5 in the third quarter to put the game away before the final period started.
Imani Cross finished the night with 13 points — all in the fourth quarter — and sophomore Kanler Coker added 10 points and four assists.
For the night, North Hall had 20 assists led by Lance White’s five.
Chestatee was led by senior point guard Lamar Brooks with 16 points, 15 in the first half, and Preston Smith with 11 points.
Cole Morgan added nine points for the War Eagles (7-9, 2-3).
North Hall returns to action at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Pickens while Chestatee next plays at 8:30 p.m. Friday when it plays host to Gilmer.