North Hall and North Forsyth seemed to be evenly matched on Friday night as the two squared off at Gainesville High in a play date to benefit Toys for Tots and March of Dimes.
The girls game, which went to overtime, ended in a 55-49 loss for North Hall before the Raiders topped the Trojans 46-45 on a layup in the final seconds.
North Forsyth’s (8-0) Maddie Palmer tied the girls game at 47 apiece by hitting one of her two free throws with 14 seconds left. The Lady Trojans (3-2) went down the floor, but were called for a double dribble with 1.9 seconds remaining.
The Lady Raiders took the ball, but the shot was late.
In the extra time, North Forsyth made 5 of their 10 chances from the free throw line. A 3-pointer from Amber Jones helped complete the eight points in the extra period.
North Hall was only able to muster two points in overtime with Niki Carver making two of her four attempts from the foul line.
The Lady Trojans trailed by two heading into the fourth quarter, but quickly built an eight-point lead. North Forsyth still fought back to equalize late.
Despite the loss, the Lady Trojans had a reason to celebrate as Sadie Cleveland hit a mid-range jumper for the first points of the third quarter. The basket was a much anticipated one as it put Cleveland across the 1,000-point mark for her career.
When the ball went through the hoop, Cleveland knew it was special, so she thrust her hands into the air in celebration.
“I was told I only needed five (points). I knew that last game, so coming into this game I knew I’d let my points come to me and not worry about it too much,” Cleveland said. “It was pretty exciting. It’s something I’ve worked for for a while. Finally getting it out of the way and not have to worry about it is always a good thing.”
Trojans coach Kristi House knew the milestone was a reality, but Cleveland’s path to get there was plagued by a knee injury.
“Sadie is just a special player. If you’ve ever seen her play, you know that. She’s a great teammate. Not only does she score points, she plays great defense. We’re just blessed to have her as a part of our program,” House said. “With her tearing her ACL a couple of seasons ago and to be able to come back and do what she’s done, it’s just a testament to how hard she works.”
Cleveland finished the game with 10 points and a team-high six rebounds. Tatum McQuillen also had 10 for the Lady Trojans.
Niki Carver led North Hall with 13 points.
“Niki has always been an unsung hero. For her to have 13, that’s no surprise,” House said. “She’s a (Division I) softball player, but she busts it on the basketball court. She’s solid, she’s a great teammate and she does the little things, so I’m happy for her.”
Caroline Martin was the only Lady Raider to score in double digits with 15.
North Forsyth’s Cassie Markle had a pair of free throw attempts in overtime to solidify a double-double effort, but she fell one point shy. Markle finished with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Seven different Lady Trojans scored in the contest. That’s something House has been looking for out of her girls.
“That’s what we’ve been talking a lot about with our players is being unselfish with the ball,” House said. “We want to see more assists.”
Cleveland said the excitement of being a good teammate and helping each other score is what has awakened the ball movement for North Hall.
Both House and Cleveland said the Lady Trojans need to work on finishing plays on defense. Cleveland also said rebounding is something the team could benefit from improving.
Up next, North Hall will host Greater Atlanta Christian in a region matchup at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
North Forsyth will welcome Archer at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Cumming.
NORTH FORSYTH BOYS 46, NORTH HALL 45: With 2.7 seconds left, Jonathan Pefanis proved to be the hero as his only points of the game came on a layup after he sliced his way through the Trojans’ (3-2) defense with a head fake and a ball fake. North Hall had a good shot to pull the rug out from under the Raiders’ feet, but it fell short off the front rim. A put-back effort was too late, sealing the Raiders’ victory.
Evan Easton scored the first eight points for North Hall and led all scorers in the game with 16 points. Alec Volle was the only other Trojan in double digits with 10 points. Jake Meeler finished the game with six rebounds for North Hall.
For North Forsyth, Preston Wiggins finished with 11 points and Kellson Gravitt posted 10, all of which came in the second half.
Wiggins was the recipient of two points off of a very peculiar play where a hard pass intended for Wiggins was deflected by a North Hall player, high, off the glass and into the basket.
In the fourth period, the Raiders were a perfect 12 for 12 at the free throw line and finished the contest 15 of 18.