East Hall’s boys and girls basketball programs are starting to play with the consistency its fans are used to seeing.
After slow starts to the season, both programs continued to build momentum for the subregion stretch of the Region 7-AAA schedule with wins against Flowery Branch on Friday night at East Hall.
The Lady Vikings (9-5, 2-0 Region 7B-AAA) made it five wins in a row with a 45-37 victory over the Lady Falcons. East Hall’s boys (8-4, 2-0) defeated Flowery Branch 88-76 for its seventh win in its last eight outings.
The results were the same for both of East Hall’s basketball programs, but the roads to victory were vastly different. The Vikings boys hit five first-half 3-point baskets and built a 15-point lead by halftime. On the other hand, East Hall’s girls used a strong inside presence early in the fourth quarter, hitting four consecutive baskets to compensate for its troubles at the free throw line (16-for-31) to secure victory.
"I felt we could use our size and depth in the paint to our advantage," East Hall girls coach Joey Rider said. "When we didn’t turn the ball over it worked out good."
East Hall’s boys had six scorers in double figures to pick up the win heading into tonight’s game at Gainesville. Charles Perry led the Vikings with 16 points and seven assists. Kymmon Woods had 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals for East Hall. Kevin Blackwell (13), Greg Edwards (12), Dustin Duckworth (11) and Ashton Cheeks (10) were also in double figures for the Vikings. East Hall created some of its opportunities defensively by forcing 21 turnovers.
"We got some good looks early tonight and opened up some lanes for baskets," East Hall coach Joe Dix said. "I just would’ve hoped we could have finished better.
"But we’re still learning and we’re a young group, so this was a big win for our team."
The Vikings were scoring in all forms and fashions with an 11-1 run to end the first half. Greg Edwards capped the run by hitting three free throws after getting fouled behind the three point line with only 2.9 seconds left in the second quarter.
Duckworth, Blackwell and Edwards all hit 3-pointers for the Vikings in the first quarter. Duckworth’s 3-pointer with 5:16 left in the first quarter gave the Vikings a 5-4 lead and they never trailed the remainder of the night.
Ishmael Hollis, a junior, led Flowery Branch (6-7, 1-1) with a career-high 30 points. Rashad Tate scored 14 for the Falcons and Brian Welchel added nine.
Flowery Branch plays host to North Hall at 7:30 tonight.
East Hall girls 45, Flowery Branch 37
Morgan Jackson was the inside force the Lady Vikings were looking for early in the fourth quarter against Flowery Branch. She hit a pair of baskets in the paint to help preserve the win. Kayneshia Maddox and Kristina Harris also hit inside shots for the Lady Vikings during that pivotal fourth quarter stretch.
Jackson led the Lady Vikings with 11 points and five rebounds. Maddox had 10 points and six rebounds.
East Hall also improved on its free throw shooting in the final quarter. The Vikings hit only 3-of-10 in the first half, but managed to connect on 13-of-21 in the second half.
"We’ve been shooting about 68-percent on free throws this season, so the first half was a little frustrating," Rider said. "But we managed to make the shots when they really counted."
Jessica Harper finished as Flowery Branch’s (3-10, 0-2) leading scorer with 14 points and Cash Champion added eight.
The Lady Falcons play host to North Hall at 6 tonight.