The North Hall girls didn’t let an early first-quarter distraction get in the way on Friday night at West Hall.
After West Hall held on to possession of the basketball for the entire eight-minute first quarter, the Lady Trojans used strong performances from sisters Sydney and Sadie Cleveland across the final three quarters to earn a 53-43 win over the Lady Spartans in Oakwood.
“Our kids really had to dial in and deliver when we got offensive possessions,” North Hall coach Kristi House said. “I was real proud of our girls, sticking with their gameplan.”
Sydney Cleveland finished with 16 points to lead North Hall, while her younger sister Sadie scored all 14 of her points in the second half to help the Lady Trojans (13-7, 6-4 Region 7-AAA) pull away from the Lady Spartans (7-13, 1-10) after what was a relatively close game through the first three quarters.
“We’re thankful that they’re wearing green,” House said of the Cleveland sisters. “It always takes a team effort, but it is nice getting to see them play together out there.”
The majority of the first quarter was spent with three Lady Spartans moving the ball back-and-forth near midcourt, while North Hall sat back in a base defensive setup.
With 15 seconds left in the quarter, West Hall’s Maia Caldwell-Booker, who led all scorers with a game-high 24 points, attempted the game’s first field goal, which fell off the side of the rim.
The strategy, according to West hall coach Bryan Richerson, the former coach at North Hall, was to limit the amount of foul calls against his Lady Spartans.
“We’ve had a tough time this year getting into foul trouble in the first half,” Richerson said. “We are going to do whatever it takes to win a basketball game. If that means hold the basketball for 32 minutes, we are going to hold the ball for 32 minutes.”
North Hall scored the game’s first basketball at the 7:45 mark of the second quarter, coming off a 3-pointer from Katie Sayres, who finished with 11 points. The Lady Trojans led 12-8 at the end of the first half, and extended their lead to 28-20 at the end of the third quarter.
West Hall closed back within five on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get any closer as North Hall finished the game on a 14-9 run to secure the win.
That run was aided by three straight baskets from the Cleveland sisters, including a layup off a missed foul shot by Sadie, which put North Hall ahead 47-39 with 1:34 remaining.
WEST HALL BOYS 69, NORTH HALL 63 (OT): Hunter Atkinson scored a game-high 27 points and the Spartans rallied from a third-quarter double-digit deficit to earn a Region 7-AAA win over Senior Night in Oakwood.
Atkinson, who committed to play football at the University of Cincinnati prior to the start of Friday’s game, scored 20 of his 27 points in the second half and in overtime, and led the massive Spartan run in the fourth quarter.
It was a run that saw West Hall (9-11, 4-6 Region 7-AAA) outscore North Hall 16-6 to overcome a four-point deficit and grab a 52-47 lead with three minutes remaining.
In the double bonus, North Hall (4-15, 2-8) was able to use foul shots by Brock Wingo to close back within two before a layup by Evan Easton with 3.5 seconds remaining in regulation knotted the game even at 59-59.
In overtime, West Hall took advantage of a shorthanded North Hall, which lost a pair of players to foul trouble just seconds into the extra period.
With the game tied at 63-63, the Spartans used a 6-0 run to close out the game, led by three straight foul shots by Mason Gaines.
Gaines finished with 10 points for West Hall, while Tyquan Statham finished with nine and Luke Castillo with eight.
Carson Heinen led North Hall with 19 points, while Easton and Wingo each finished with 11 points.