With the No. 2 seed in the Region 7-AAA Tournament still up for grabs, the East Hall boys’ basketball team can’t risk losing another region game.
The Vikings’ offense picked up on that notion, and answered with an 80-69 win over Banks County on Friday.
Led by Kyvon Davenport’s 23-point, 17-rebound performance, East Hall (13-11, 9-4) hit 10 3-pointers and went 12 of 15 from the free throw line en route to just its third 80-point game of the season.
“My old coach used to say when you shoot like that it covers up a multitude of sins,” Vikings coach Joe Dix said. “That may have been our best offensive performance of the season.”
Equally as important, East Hall remained tied with Dawson County for second place in the region standings following the Tigers’ win over West Hall on Friday.
With one game remaining in the regular season, a favorable matchup against Fannin County today, the Vikings will count on a win over the Rebels and a Dawson County loss tonight to Banks County (13-11, 7-6) to secure the No. 2 seed.
If both teams are still tied after tonight’s games, a coin flip will determine the No. 2 seed, as each team won a game against each other this season.
That seed will get to play at home in the first round of the region tournament, and East Hall could get a chance to play in the comfortable confines of its home court, where the Vikings have averaged 87 points in their last two games.
Davenport’s numbers were about on par with his season averages, but he did most of his damage late in the game. A quiet first two quarters turned into 20 points and 12 rebounds in the second half, including a 10-point, five-rebound third quarter.
“Kyvon took over the game in the second half, and when he plays like that, we’re a hard team to beat,” Dix said.
Antonio Maddox hit four 3-pointers and scored 19 points, while Tristan Cooper hit another from long range for 14 points. Jacquen Hopkins scored nine points in the first quarter and finished the night with 10.
East Hall rarely felt stress from Banks County and never trailed in any point of the game. The Vikings jumped out to a 23-13 lead through one, and expanded their lead to 43-31 at halftime. They drained seven 3-pointers by intermission.
Davenport’s colossal third quarter included six points and five rebounds in a 3 ½-minute span to open the period, giving his team a sizable 51-36 lead.
East Hall went on to take a 60-45 lead to start the fourth, where Banks County took a slight advantage. Led by Zez Steeple’s 10 fourth-quarter points, the Leopards got back within eight of the Vikings, but couldn’t get any closer.
Steeple finished with a team-high 22 points and was one of four Banks County players in double figures. Gatlin Boswell scored 15 points, and Zac Orr and Austin Venable each added 12.
Venable, who battled Davenport for rebounds in the paint for the majority of the night, pulled down a team-high 10 boards.
BANKS COUNTY GIRLS 43, EAST HALL 41: Savannah Blalock scored on a layup at the buzzer to lead the Lady Leopards past the Lady Vikings after a tightly-matched fourth quarter.
Banks County (18-6, 8-5 Region 7-AAA) entered the quarter up by three and remained ahead by single digits until East Hall tied the game at 41 apiece after Jenny Edwards sank a pair of free throws with 1:43 left to play.
A Lady Vikings (11-13, 4-9) foul put possession back in the Lady Leopards’ hands in the final minute, and Blalock slipped in the game-winner as time expired.
Taylor Kennedy scored a team-high 14 points for Banks County, including four 3-pointers. Taylor Kennedy added 13 points.
The win moves the Lady Leopards into a tie with North Hall for second place in the region. They wrap up their regular season at Dawson County today.
Edwards led East Hall with 14 points, scoring 12 in the second half. Jataisha Bailey added 12 for the Lady Vikings.
East Hall visits Fannin County today to conclude its regular season.