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High school basketball: East Hall boys escape with narrow region victory over Flowery Branch
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East Hall's John Salyers puts up a shot against Flowery Branch's Tyleek Worth during the game between Flowery Branch and East Hall high schools on Friday, Jan. 22 at East Hall High School. -Photo by Paul Sasso

By Robert Alfonso Jr.
For The Times

As the clock hit zero, East Hall High coach Tom Yancey was able to exhale.

The Vikings coach let out a large yelp, which was only contained by a mask, and pumped his fist after a 54-51 win over Flowery Branch High Friday night. This will improved East Hall’s record to 6-12 overall and 2-5 in region play.

“For us to get a win is big,” an elated Yancey said after the game.

East Hall entered the game undermanned. Three of the Vikings point guards are currently unable to suit up due to COVID-19 protocols, so everyone in a black and gold uniform needed to pick up the ball handling responsibilities.

Things did not go smoothly for most of the game. Then, as it was nearing its end, the Vikings defensive energy picked up. East Hall disrupted the Falcons offense for easy buckets and extra possessions down the stretch. Christian Torres’ put back layup with 1:30 to play gave the Vikings a 52-49 lead.

Torres finished with a game-high 19 points. Imre Earls chipped in with 12 points.

Flowery Branch (3-12, 0-7) had a chance to cut into the deficit, but the Falcons failed to capitalize on two missed free throws by East Hall. Despite several missed opportunities, Flowery Branch had a chance to heave a game-tying shot as time expired, but it fell short.

Yancey gave all the credit to the players for their late surge.

“The guys played better,” he said. “They played with a lot of energy. The guys didn’t want to lose tonight.”

Flowery Branch was led by Trevor Gurske, Jacob Dixon and  Tyleek Worth, who had 12 points apiece. 

“I thought we played well enough to win,” Falcons coach Jay Burney said. “We had every opportunity to win. We didn’t make enough winning plays. East Hall kept battling and made winning plays.”

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