The East Hall’s boys’ final win of the regular season was just the icing on the cake to a perfect 12-0 run in region play.
Now, the Vikings would like to keep that momentum going with a region championship and chance to open the postseason back in Gainesville.
Against Franklin County, East Hall had nothing on the line as far as Region 7-AAA tournament seeding goes. The Vikings (20-5, 12-0) already earned the No. 1 seed with a win against Fannin County on Jan. 30, as well as an automatic first-round tournament bye and berth in the playoffs with only seven schools in 7-AAA.
Still, there was plenty of pride on the line, as the Vikings seniors played their last regular season home game Friday on Senior Night. A big second quarter, paced by 10 points from Kyvon Davenport, equipped the Vikings for a 90-74 victory.
“This means so much,” said Davenport, who finished with a game-high 33 points. “This is something we talked about doing before the season even started.
This is East Hall’s first perfect region record since playing in Class AA in 2012.
The Vikings will open the region tournament in the second round against an opponent still to be determined.
“This team has embraced playing with each other,” Vikings coach Joe Dix said. “It’s been exciting to coach these guys and watch them play all year.”
Trailing briefly late in the opening quarter, a string of 3-pointers by Triston Cooper, Davenport and Tylor Brown got East Hall back in front 19-14 going into the second period.
Along with another pair of long-range baskets by Davenport and two more inside had the Vikings leading 44-30 at intermission. The Vikings also had some good hustle play in the second quarter. After Davenport’s first 3-pointer of the second period, Jacquen Hopkins (11 points) followed his steal with a basket underneath.
Brown, who scored 17, also provided another basket and completed the 3-point possession at the free throw line, just seconds before the buzzer for halftime.
Davenport wrapped up his big night with crowd-pleasing dunks in both the third and fourth quarter.
Dix feels his program's resiliency is a good sign for the postseason.
The Vikings never lost consecutive games this season, with three of the non-region losses coming to Gainesville.
EAST HALL GIRLS 57, FRANKLIN COUNTY 42: Ashlyn Ellison’s off-balanced steal and pass to Jatasia Bailey for the score was a sign of how well the first half went Friday for the Lady Vikings (15-9, 8-4 Region 7-AAA). After intercepting the pass near midcourt and gaining better control of the ball against the defender, Ellison got a look and threw it to the open Bailey in the paint.
The Lady Vikings’ leading scorer made it count with a drive to the basket and score early in the second period.
Those points gave East Hall its first double-digit lead of the game, 23-12, six minutes before the half. Bailey finished the night with five 3-pointers and a game-high 23 points.
“Jatasia played extremely well,” East Hall coach Justin Wheeler said. “She hit the 3-pointers, drove to the basket well.
“There’s not much she didn’t do well tonight.”
With the win, third-seeded East Hall will face No. 6 Fannin County to open the Region 7-AAA tournament Tuesday at Banks County. Game time will be determined at a region meeting Saturday.
Wheeler hopes that the final game of the regular season was a positive transition to tournament time.
East Hall needs to win the region tournament opener to secure a postseason berth.
Bailey was primarily hot from 3-point range early against Franklin County. She knocked down her first three from long range, then found a crease for a basket underneath, making the lead 15-7 for East Hall late in the opening period.
The Lady Vikings would need another statement from Bailey, after Franklin County(15-10, 6-6) got within four points in the third quarter. With 1:20 left in the period, Bailey popped another 3-pointer, then hit both attempts at the free throw line less than a minute later.
Playing great on the defensive end all night, junior Jenny Edwards finished with 10 rebounds and six points for East Hall. She hit a pair of free throws early in the fourth quarter, getting East Hall back to a double-digit lead.
Bailey followed it with her final 3-point basket.
The Lady Vikings hit 10 of 11 free throw attempts.
East Hall is trying to start the postseason at home again this season. In 2014, the Lady Vikings finished as region runner-up and won the opener of the state tournament against North Murray in Gainesville.