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High school basketball: North Hall boys top Lumpkin County, lock up state playoff berth
North Hall's Clark Howell goes in for a layup against Dawson County in the Region 7-3A tournament Thursday in Gainesville. Photo by Natalae La Douceur

North Hall’s boys basketball team has finally found its confidence.

Despite games that have escaped this team or some uncertainties that could have derailed them, the Trojans kept the pressure on Thursday night beating Lumpkin County 61-51 in the first round of the Region 7-3A tournament. With the win, the Trojans advance to face White County or Gilmer on Saturday in the tournament semifinals. 

North Hall also locked up a playoff berth with the victory.

“We’ll enjoy this for a little bit,” North Hall coach Miles Kendall said. “White County is one of the toughest teams around.”

Leading the way for the Trojans was sophomore Sam Gailey, who finished with a game-high 12 points. 

Also for North Hall, junior Brady Hall had 10 points, while senior Cole Ellis added nine points.

However, before the Trojans (11-10) could think about any advance, it needed to take care of the task in front of them. They needed to focus on stopping Lumpkin County, which is loaded with shooters.

“Our defense has gotten better,” North Hall coach Miles Kendall said. “The kids have earned our confidence and we have earned theirs.”

This new-found confidence is exactly what Kendall could’ve hoped for his team during this time of the season. 

His plan was to speed things up and make Lumpkin County uncomfortable on the perimeter. 

The strategy worked.

North Hall’s defensive intensity ignited the offense and helped build its confidence with every possession. Lumpkin County continued to compete with the Trojans before the lead got too far away from them in the third quarter.

“Things started on defense (for us) and not let them shoot,” said Trojans senior guard Clark Howell, who finished with seven points.

This collective team effort carried into the Trojans bench. It did not matter who Kendall put in the game, they knew what the game plan of the day entailed.

“We showed toughness and that we have depth,” he said. “The season has been a gradual uptick.”

Lumpkin County (10-13) was led by junior Jones Harris with a game-high 28 points. 

Senior Gus Faulkner added 10 points for the Indians. 

With the loss, the season for Lumpkin County is now finished.