Given one last chance to play high school basketball in their home county, Hall County’s best seniors didn’t disappoint.
Ty Cockfield scored 29 points and hit two free throws with 9.4 seconds left to lift the “home” team to an 82-81 victory against the “away” group in Saturday’s fourth annual North Georgia All-Star Classic at Gainesville High. Cockfield was the MVP of the boys game.
Kyvon Davenport added 13 points for the home team and forced a turnover late to help the Hall County group prevail.
The home team led 21-9 through a quarter but saw the away team take multiple leads late behind North Forsyth sharpshooter Dakota Holtzclaw.
“He’s the one that put on the show,” Cockfield said. “We just happened to win.”
Cockfield expressed gratitude for event organizers Mario Mays and Adrian Penland and everyone who had a part in making it happen.
“They actually gave the seniors a chance to come back and play in front of everybody one more time,” Cockfield said.
The Hall County group came up with enough plays down the stretch to edge their counterparts from surrounding counties.
“I was comfortable in the situation because I knew I had Ty with the ball making decisions in a one-on-one situation,” said Johnson coach Jeff Steele, who directed the home team in his second straight year coaching in the game.
It was Steele’s final time coaching Cockfield and Roderick English, who played for him at Johnson.
“It’s a joy to coach them,” Steele said. “They’ve been a great bunch to coach. And I love them, and I know they’re going to do well whatever they do.”
Holtzclaw’s 3-pointer broke a 74-all tie with in the final 90 seconds, and the away team later led by a point on a basket from Athens Christian’s Chris Tate. But Cockfield came up with the late shots at the charity stripe, and a full-court zone press on the final possession forced Holtzclaw’s missed trey at the buzzer to be roughly halfway between the 3-point line and midcourt.
Holtzclaw finished with 23 points for the away team.
“It’s a great game,” said Banks County coach Mike Cleveland, who led the away team. “I thought all the kids played well, good crowd, great for the kids.”
AWAY GIRLS 55, HOME 37: Banks County senior Kaitlyn Duncan’s last high school game was one to remember.
The Furman signee scored 13 points to earn MVP honors, including a 3-pointer in the final minute of the first half to give the away team a 24-18 lead going to the break.
“It was good to be in the groove for my last game,” Duncan said.
Duncan and her teammates rode that momentum into the third quarter, where they outscored the home team by a 19-9 margin to push it to 43-27 entering the final eight minutes.
It was like a reunion for Duncan, who was playing with many of her travel teammates from eighth grade.
East Hall’s Chelsea Dale sank four 3-pointers to finish with a team-high 12 points for the home group, and North Hall’s Katie Sayres pitched in nine.
It was a doubly enjoyable game for East Hall coach Justin Wheeler, who directed the away team to a win and got to see Dale excel while coaching against her in her final high school game.
“We had an incredible height advantage, but the girls we had are very skilled too,” Wheeler said. “So (there) wasn’t too much that we couldn’t do.”
After seeing Dale hit numerous 3-pointers for his team, Wheeler got to see it from an opponent’s standpoint. Jatasia Bailey was another East Hall player on the home team he faced.
“I love those girls,” Wheeler said. “I was happy for them to make their shots and get steals and just make good plays.”