Following the Senior Night recognition and just before the start of the second half of the boys game Tuesday night, the Chestatee girls basketball team received more good news — North Hall had won.
The Hall County rival Lady Trojans beat Stephens County on Tuesday, meaning the Lady War Eagles will enter the Region 8-AAA tournament as the No. 2 seed out of the North subregion.
Of course Chestatee had to do its part first — and it did, shutting down White County in the second half Tuesday en route to a 49-34 win in Gainesville.
The win by North Hall, the team that had wrestled the subregion away from Chestatee, moved the Lady War Eagles (19-6, 6-4) from third to second in the final standings by virtue of the head-to-head matchup with Stephens County, which also finished 6-4 in the subregion.
A loss to White County and Chestatee would have finished fourth.
“We’re young, but I totally believe in our team,” Chestatee junior Maegan Kenimer said. “We knew we could get here, now we hope to go far.”
Chestatee will have a bye through to the second round of the tournament which begins next week. For a team that boasted no seniors to recognize during senior night, it was the end to a successful regular season.
“For us it’s a great season,” Chestatee coach Web Daniel said. “We’re very proud of this group.”
After last season’s subregion championship and run to the state sweet sixteen, Daniel didn’t know how this season would go with a host of new players.
“We knew that we had some quality junior varsity kids last year — they were undefeated at one point,” Daniel said. “We had the talent, just young talent.”
The Lady War Eagles avenged an earlier loss in Cleveland and blew open what was a 23-22 game at the half with a 16-3 run that covered the third quarter.
“We came out strong,” said Kenimer, who led all scorers with 20 points. “We knew we could win against them.”
Kenimer was a big factor during the run, scoring the first four points, and six of the team’s first eight, in the second half.
Then sophomore guard Emily Crain (15 points, team-high seven rebounds) made her presence known from beyond the arc, hitting the final two of her team-high five 3-pointers to push the lead to double digits.
“I love to see it when our shooters are making shots and we’re playing good defense,” Kenimer said. “It gets everybody psyched.”
White County briefly came within eight points at 42-34 with under two minutes remaining in the contest, but Kenimer put the game away with three straight baskets.
The Lady Warriors (11-12, 5-5) were led by Megan Deloach with 11 points. White County finished fourth in the subregion.
Chestatee’s win concluded a big turnaround in the subregion.
After a 59-54 loss to North Hall on Jan. 24, Chestatee was just 2-4 in the subregion. Since then the War Eagles won four out of five overall and four consecutive subregion games to finish the regular season.
CHESTATEE BOYS 70, WHITE COUNTY 59: Chestatee sealed the No. 4 seed out of the North subregion with Tuesday’s win in Gainesville.
The War Eagles (5-20, 5-5 8-AAA North) will host the South No. 5 seed, either Johnson or Lanier, on Monday.
Chestatee started the season 0-17, but was able to finish .500 in 8-AAA North play with the win over White County (6-18, 1-9), capping a 5-3 finish to the season.
“It’s a pretty good accomplishment for the way we started out the year,” Chestatee coach Gary Barnes said.
With the loss, the Warriors can finish no better than fifth in the subregion.
Junior guard Keelan Passmore led the War Eagles with 20 points, Justin Jones added 14, Cole Morgan 13 and Jordan Degraff 11 as Chestatee blew open the doors in the third quarter with 29 points to turn a two-point halftime deficit into a 55-41 lead after three.
Eddie Hurst led White County with 15 points and Spencer Adams and Rand Rowland each scored 13.