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East Hall boys win 2nd consecutive region title; West Hall girls win first region title since 2002
East Hall girls, Banks County boys earn No. 3 seeds
The West Hall Lady Spartans basketball team poses with the Region 7-AAA Championship trophy Saturday after defeating Dawson County 71-53 in Dahlonega. - photo by For The Times

East Hall’s boys basketball team earned a second straight region title and its 25th in school history Saturday night with a 65-52 win against tournament host Lumpkin County.

The Vikings (20-7) were powered by Tylor Brown, who coach Joe Dix called as a “catalyst” for East Hall.

“He’s been the catalyst all year,” Dix said. “He’s made it happen for us. He was impressive tonight.”

The Indians (18-10) held the lead at the half, 29-28, before Andy Lara and Brown took over in the third quarter, outscoring Lumpkin County with a combined 15 points.

The Vikings used the third quarter to take the lead, which it held for the first time on a layup by Brown with 4:40 left in the period, and create a deficit.

East Hall outscored the Indians 13-6 in the first four minutes of the second half.

“I thought Andy Lara’s performance tonight was huge off our bench,” Dix said. “He’s kind of brought his game back the last couple of days. He was the one who kind of triggered the run.”

By the start of the final period, the Vikings led 51-42.

Down the stretch, Brown knocked down each of his six attempts at the foul line. He finished 8 of 8 on the night and totaled 24 points.

Lara, who hit four 3-pointers in the game, finished with 16 points.

For Lumpkin County, Brandon Zarate was a force inside and racked up 23 points in the contest, including 14 points in the second half.

Indians guard Zach Pulley hit a pair of 3-pointers in the contest and finished with 12.

Lumpkin County will play North Murray in the first round of the state tournament.

“This bunch right here, they’ve just found a way,” Dix said. “We had to come from behind both games here. Lumpkin has a great team. Coach (Jeff) Steele has changed the culture here. It’s amazing what he’s done in just a few months.”

The Vikings will host Ringgold in the first round of the state tournament. Time and date have yet to be announced.

WEST HALL GIRLS 71, DAWSON COUNTY 53: The Lady Spartans (19-8) picked up its first girls basketball region title since 2002 Saturday night in Dahlonega behind the hot hand of sophomore guard Anna Mckendree.

“I’ve had confidence in these guys,” said West Hall coach Bryan Richerson. “I told them the other day, ‘We’ve respected you guys, your coaching staff has respected you this whole year. You’ve earned our respect. Now, it’s time to let Hall County earn your respect and to let the state earn your respect.’ I think they’ve done that. Beating the No. 6 team and No. 7 team twice in a week, that’s an amazing feeling.”

The victory also marked a 10th straight for the Lady Spartans.

The Lady Tigers (23-4) began the game by double-teaming Mckendree, who took advantage of it by standing at half court and letting her teammates play 4 on 3 against the rest of Dawson County’s squad.

In that time, Avery Prather knocked down a 3-pointer to open the game and scored on a mid-range jumper to score the first five points for West Hall.

From there, the Lady Spartans continued to lead.

West Hall outscored Dawson County in each of the first three quarters of play, including taking a 51-28 lead into the final quarter of play.

Mckendree, who led all scorers with nine in the first half, hit three 3-pointers in the third quarter. She finished the period with 13 points. In the fourth, she added 11 more and finished with a game-high 33. Overall, Mckendree was 14 of 17 from the foul line.

Macy Passmore totaled 15 points in the contest with nine coming in the second half.

“(Mckendree) and Macy Passmore, I’m biased, but two of the best guards in the state,” Richerson said. “I haven’t seen a whole lot around, but they’re pretty dang good.”

Megan English finished with nine, Prather had eight and Izzy Salgado hit two free throws in the fourth to top off all scoring.

The Lady Tigers were led by Karlie Bearden with 24 points, who was 6 of 6 from the foul line.

Kaylee Sticker contributed 10 for Dawson County with equal five-point halves.

“I’m proud for West Hall High School. I’m proud for our community, our fans, our parents,” Richerson said. “They deserve this. This is for them.”

The Lady Spartans will represent the region as the No. 1 seed and will host Adairsville Tuesday with the time to be determined.


BANKS COUNTY BOYS 71, WEST HALL 42: The Leopards (23-4) rode on the shoulders of Region 7-AAA Player of the Year Zez Steeple Saturday night against the Spartans (13-13) to lock up a No. 3 seed for the Class AAA state playoffs.

Banks County led 22-5 after the first quarter. Then, it all but coasted to a victory.

Steeple scored nine points in the first quarter and 14 in the second.

Steeple finished with 28 as coach Mike Cleveland pulled his starters early in the fourth quarter. Forward Zac Orr contributed 10 points in the paint for the Leopards.

West Hall will play Calhoun in the first round of the state tournament, while Banks County will tackle Coahulla Creek.

Esteban Ulloa built on a nine point first half for West Hall to finish with 17 in the contest. Xzavier Reid scored 12 in the game and also had nine in the first half for the Spartans.

EAST HALL GIRLS 69, BANKS COUNTY 49: The Lady Vikings (21-6) used a big first half to earn the No. 3 seed against Banks County (14-14) Saturday night in Dahlonega.

East Hall jumped out to a 17-7 lead in the first and then outscored the Lady Leopards 21-6 in the second.

Kylah Mize was 6 of 6 from the foul line and finished the game with 24 points.

Ashlyn Ellison added 15 points on the night for the Lady Vikings, including going 3 of 4 from the line.

Banks County didn’t go away quietly as they posted 20 points in the third quarter, but still trailed by 14 heading into the final period.

Mallory Parson led the Lady Leopards in the game with 15 points, which included four 3-pointers in the second half.

Jacie Bowen added 11 points for East Hall.

The Lady Vikings will play Ringgold in the first round of the state tournament. Time and date are yet to be determined.

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