The North Hall girls made up for a lot of regular-season frustration with a memorable come-from-behind win against Dawson County to open the Region 7-3A tournament Thursday.
The Lady Trojans needed a 3-pointer and utilized a timely a defensive play in waning seconds of overtime to secure a thrilling 55-51 win, which locked up a spot in the region semifinals and berth in the state playoffs.
With the win, North Hall (9-17) advances to face Lumpkin County at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, while the season for Dawson County is now finished.
To advance in the region tournament, the Lady Trojans had to overcome a 14-point, first-half deficit.
“Coming off the season we have had, we have asked the girls to stay the course,” Lady Trojans coach Kristi House said. “We have wanted to play our best basketball at the end (of the season). This is a great win at home.”
Trailing by a point with 30 seconds left in overtime, House called a timeout. After the break in the action, junior Rylee McCall stepped back and drained a long 3-pointer.
“I felt it (going in).,” said McCall, who scored 11 points. “I wanted to cry (when it did).”
So did House.
“I almost cried,” she said. “We believe in Rylee. To come into this game as the underdog, I don’t think anyone believed in us, other than the people in our locker room. We’re happy to get this win.”
Dawson County tried to get the ball inbounds, but McCall delivered another critical play by deflecting the pass off a Lady Tigers player, giving North Hall the ball with 7 seconds left to play.
The Lady Tigers’ foul helped the Lady Trojans seal the game.
Kristina Peach finished with a team-high 17 points for North Hall, while Rylee Thomson chipped in 11 points.
Even the North Hall won, it was Dawson County which dominated the first two quarters.
The more experienced Lady Tigers got off to a solid start shooting early. They took advantage of North Hall mistakes and cold shooting. However, the young Lady Trojans refused to give, cutting it down to a 22-14 deficit for halftime.
North Hall picked up the defensive intensity in the second half to stay within striking distance the entire time against Dawson County.
The Lady Trojans took a 45-42 lead late in the fourth before Madison Anglin’s 3-pointer for Dawson County at the end of regulation sent the game into overtime. Anglin finished with a game-high 22 points.
However, the clutch play in extra time was what sealed the deal for North Hall.
“It was crazy,” McCall said. “We were down at halftime. We had to pull it together. We’re a young team. Everyone counted us out.”