The East Hall boys’ basketball team has a clear identity, and made it known Tuesday night.
Having led by upwards of six points for the better part of the game, the Vikings withstood a 12-0, third quarter, lead-taking run by Gainesville to outscore the Red Elephants 22-15 in the fourth quarter en route to a 72-66 win Tuesday night at East Hall.
“Coming back and fighting has become this team’s calling card,” said East Hall (8-5, 2-1 Region 7B-AAA) coach Joe Dix. “We don’t have the most talented team we’ve had, but we’re tough as nails, play hard and play together.”
Case in point was East Hall’s senior center Nolan Carter who was chided by Dix early in the game after allowing Gainesville power forward A.J. Johnson to get three offensive rebounds in the first minute of the game.
Carter responded not allowing Johnson another rebound until the third quarter while scoring eight points and grabbing eight rebounds himself.
“(Carter) was a little uptight early,” Dix said. “It was his last time playing Gainesville at home and he was uptight.
“I told him to relax and told him that we needed him and he responded.”
After Gainesville (3-7, 1-2) took a 4-0 lead in the game’s opening minutes on four straight points by Johnson – all coming on putbacks - East Hall responded with a 10-0 run sparked by two 3-pointers by senior Greg Edwards to take a 10-4 lead.
The Vikings expanded on their lead with a quarter-ending 6-3 run capped by a Charles Perry runner as the buzzer sounded.
Johnson finished as Gainesville’s leading scorer with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Perry finished with 13 points and four assists while Edwards had 11 points, nine from 3-point land.
East Hall’s defense was on as on point in the first quarter as its offense was, holding Gainesville to just seven points.
“I think we’re a little ahead defensively than we are offensively,” Dix said. “We had a good defensive game Saturday night (against West Forsyth) and were solid again tonight.”
Perry and Edwards further extended their team’s lead in the second quarter when they traded assists and 3-pointers to make it 31-16 East Hall.
Gainesville showed signs of its will in the latter part of the first half as the Red Elephants cut into East Hall’s lead slightly to go into halftime down only seven.
They built on that early in the third quarter, however, getting within three points on a layup by Chris West that capped a half-starting 6-2 run in which West scored four points.
West went a one-man run of his own later in the third quarter sparking what would end up being a lead-changing 12-0 run with a personal 5-0 run that pulled Gainesville within three points at 47-44.
After causing a 10-second call on East Hall after pulling within three, West hit Johnson in the paint for a one-handed slam that not only brought Gainesville within one point but put Johnson at the free throw line. He hit from the stripe to give Gainesville its first lead since the first minute of the game.
The Red Elephants built on their lead, raising it to five points, by scoring four straight capped by a Demonte Broadway runner.
With the momentum having clearly shifted, East Hall refocused and came out firing to start the fourth, especially Dre Perry.
A Carter steal and assist to Perry for a jumper gave East Hall an one-point lead. After Gainesville’s Broadway responded with a layup, Perry again came through with a three-point play that gave East Hall a two-point lead that it would not relinquish.
“(The Perry boys) are two hard-nosed kids and great kids,” said Dix of Dre and Charles, the team’s two leading scorers. “Charles is our leader and our spark and Dre was key for us down the stretch tonight.”
Dre Perry finished as the team’s leading scorer with 16 points, nine in the fourth quarter. Joshua Hampton added 11 for the Vikings while Kymmon Woods, who played only four minutes in the game, had four points and five rebounds, three clutch ones in the waning minutes of the Vikings’ win.
“We’re trying to develop consistency,” Dix said. “We’re learning on the job and the win tonight against a really good Gainesville team will go a long way in helping us.”
Other than Johnson, Gainesville was led by West and Quan Holcombe who each had 12 points and Ke’Ondric Sadler who scored 10.
EAST HALL GIRLS 61, GAINESVILLE 34: East Hall held an 18-10 lead after the first quarter, a 33-14 lead after the second and didn’t look back en route to a win Tuesday night at East Hall.
Jasmine Jenkins was the catalyst for East Hall (9-4, 3-0 Region 7B-AAA), scoring 13 of her game-high 28 points in the first quarter while going 3-for-3 from the 3-point line.
The Lady Vikings took their first double-digit lead at 25-14 with three minutes remaining in the second quarter when Jenkins rebounded her own miss, dribbled outside the 3-point line and nailed a shot, making her 4-for-4 from the 3-point line.
Haley Chapman, who finished as the Vikings’ second leading scorer with 17 points, followed Jenkins 3-pointer with one of her own to push East Hall’s lead to 14.
Morgan Jackson sparked an early fourth quarter East Hall run the gave the Lady Vikings a 28-point lead when she scored five straight and Chapman gave them their biggest lead of the game at 30 points on her fifth 3-pointer of the game with three minutes remaining in the game.
Gainesville (5-6, 1-1) was led by Jaymee Carnes with 16 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
East Hall senior point guard Dorreka Faulkner her team in every facer other than scoring with six assists, five rebounds and four steals.
The Lady Vikings return to action at 7 p.m. Friday when they play host to Johnson. Gainesville plays host to No. 1-ranked Franklin County on Saturday, tip-off is at 6 p.m.