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East Hall girls season ends at state quarterfinals
East Hall's Jalisa Stephens, left, puts up a shot in traffic with Columbia forward Kadeejah Vaughn's arms blocking the way during the fourth quarter of the Lady Viking's playoff game Saturday night at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center in Dalton.

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DALTON — East Hall coach Joey Rider was quick to say that one sluggish night on the basketball court doesn’t take away from what his seniors accomplished in their four years in East Hall’s program.

A loss in the Class AAA state quarterfinals Saturday to Columbia, 46-17, doesn’t take away from the fact that the Lady Vikings’ (23-7) seniors made the field of eight for the second time in their four-year playing careers.

In 2007, as freshmen, they were part of East Hall’s Class AAA state title squad.

“We will definitely miss these seniors next year,” Rider said.

Columbia led 17-6 after the first quarter and held East Hall scoreless in the third quarter of the quarterfinal contest at the Northwest Georgia Trade Center in Dalton.

The fifth-ranked Lady Eagles (25-3) outrebounded East Hall 27-14, led by senior and Central Florida signee Akila McDonald, who had 12 boards.

East Hall advanced to the state quarterfinals with last Wednesday’s 77-74 double-overtime victory against Stephens County.

“It was an awful ending to a great season,” Rider added.

Morgan Jackson led East Hall with eight points.

The center of the attention surrounding the Columbia program is that of 6-foot-5 center McDonald. She finished with a game-high 11 points made it next to impossible for the Vikings to get the ball inside.

“You can’t teach 6-5, she’s just big,” Rider said. “But the thing that makes Columbia so good is the pieces that are around her and make the team work.”

The Lady Eagles picked up six second quarter points from Jamima Ashby, who finished with seven points. Destinee Smith also scored seven for Columbia.

East Hall’s three seniors — Dorreka Faulkner, Haley Chapman and Jalisa Stephens — were with East Hall during a four-year span the program captured a state title, two Sweet 16 appearances and this season’s trip to the Elite 8.

East Hall advanced to the playoffs as the No. 2 seed out of Region 7-AAA. The Lady Vikings’ season is now finished.
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