DUNWOODY — A fast East Hall start had Dunwoody on its heels, but a slow finish ended the Lady Vikings’ season.
East Hall held a 14-point lead after the first quarter, but were outscored 40-23 over the next three quarters in a 46-43 loss to the eighth-ranked Lady Wildcats (21-8) in the second round of the state tournament Tuesday in Dunwoody.
“That was one of the keys, to get a quick start,” East Hall coach Joey Rider said. “Playing away from home and in a hostile environment, we knew that would be important.
“But we had a slow second quarter to let them back in it.”
At the start, East Hall (22-8) made the Dunwoody defense look as though it was standing still.
On each possession, the Lady Vikings quickly broke Dunwoody’s 2-1-2 full-court press, leading to three-on-two, easy-scoring opportunities. In the half-court set, freshman Jasmine Jenkins attacked Dunwoody’s 2-3 zone to get in the lane for both layups and short jumpers.
Jenkins led the way in the first-quarter offensive onslaught, scoring six of her game-high 21 points.
Pair all that with a defense that held Dunwoody to 13 percent shooting and the Lady Vikings looked prepped and ready to roll to a berth in the state quarterfinals, that is until the second quarter began.
As hot as East Hall was in the first period, it was equally as cold in the second.
The Lady Vikings were 1-of-8 from the field, scoring just three points to Dunwoody’s 14 as the Lady Wildcats got back in the game closing the deficit to three points.
With the momentum having swung Dunwoody’s way, the third quarter was a back-and-forth affair that housed five lead changes, the last of which went the way of the Lady Wildcats.
Seniors Madeline Teissler and Kristin Nash led the way for Dunwoody in the third with Teissler going on a personal 6-0 run to begin the quarter — four of those points off assists from Nash — to give her team its first lead since a 3-2 advantage early in the first.
“We knew (Teissler) was going to be a challenge,” said Rider of Dunwoody’s 6-foot-2 center. “But overall our defense was pretty good, it wasn’t our defense that was the problem.”
Dunwoody held a one-point lead at the end of the third quarter and built on it at the start of the fourth.
The Lady Wildcats began the quarter on a 7-0 run capped by four straight from Nash to take a 39-31 lead.
East Hall responded by scoring five straight, the final two coming off a layup by Jenkins in which she reverted back to what had working the first: splitting the Lady Wildcats defense.
Twice over the course of the final 1:13, Dunwoody went up five, each time East Hall, led by Jenkins, responded.
The freshman scored the final points for the Lady Vikings; unfortunately, it was three too little.
“I can’t complain, you get to the second round and you know it’s not going to be easy,” Rider said. “We just needed a couple more baskets.
“Twenty-two wins is a good season, a great season; but it hurts to think about that right now.”