The East Hall girls held close with higher-seeded Dawson County for three quarters Wednesday night in the first round of the Region 7-3A tournament, but the Lady Vikings came up just a bit short in their upset bid. East Hall watched a narrow lead evaporate in the fourth quarter during a four-minute scoring drought that allowed the Lady Tigers to pull ahead for good and run away with a 52-46 win.
The result sends Dawson County into the Region 7-3A tournament semifinals against North Hall and gives them a spot in the Class 3A state playoffs. For East Hall, it means the end of the season.
“This team played hard all season, and I’m proud of everything they did,” Lady Vikings coach Justin Wheeler said. “We’ve got some young players, and they stepped up at multiple points in the season. We faced some injuries and our team fought back. Every time we had adversity, our girls stepped up.”
Marlie Townley scored 22 points to lead the Lady Tigers in the win, pouring in 16 in the second half and 10 in the third quarter alone. Audrey Griffin scored 14 to pace East Hall in the defeat.
The two teams exchanged runs in the first quarter, with the Lady Vikings bookending a pair of 5-0 spurts on either side of a 9-0 span from Dawson County through the middle of the frame. The Lady Tigers led by a point eight minutes in, and scored the first 6 points of the second period to climb further into the lead. But East Hall battled back and got a huge 3-pointer from Griffin with just 30 seconds left until halftime that tied the game up going into the break.
The Lady Vikings nearly pulled away in the third thanks to back-to-back treys from Maleah Harrison and Callie Dale that put them on top by 9 with less than two minutes to play until the final frame.
But Townley completely took over the game in the waning moments of the third, scoring 6 points and notching a pair of blocks to cut the deficit to just 3 with eight minutes left to play.
Dawson County needed just two minutes to reclaim the lead in the fourth with another Townley layup and then a steal and fast break basket from Madison Anglin. East Hall would never lead again.
The Lady Vikings were held to just 2 points over the first seven minutes of the quarter, and while a late trey from Griffin cut the deficit to just 3 points, a layup from Townley with 15 seconds remaining ended any hope of a comeback.
“We played a good game,” Wheeler said. “My girls played hard. We did our best to execute. They made more plays than we did, but our girls played hard and gave it a great effort.”