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High school basketball: North Hall girls punch playoff ticket with 49-31 win against Cherokee Bluff in 7-3A tournament
North Hall
North Hall's Lauren Swanson goes up for a basket against Cherokee Bluff during the first round of the Region 7-3A tournament in Gainesville. - photo by Nathan Berg

The North Hall girls basketball team turned a dominant defensive effort into a Region 7-3A tournament win over Cherokee Bluff Wednesday night in Gainesville. The Lady Trojans allowed just 20 points over the final three quarters combined, rolling to a 49-31 victory that propels them into a region semifinal matchup Friday against Dawson County at East Hall. 

It also guarantees North Hall a spot in this year’s Class 3A state playoffs. The team will play for seeding in the remainder of the region tournament this weekend.

“It’s kind of our expectation to get to the state tournament,” Lady Trojans coach Kristi House said after the game. “The seniors haven’t missed one since they’ve been here. This is what we do.”

North Hall got 18 points from Lauren Swanson and 13 from Grace Hollifield, but House said she was most pleased with the consistent defense her team played from start to finish. 

The Lady Trojans applied full-court pressure largely throughout the contest, a testament to the group’s conditioning and coordination, according to House.

“Our kids have just been playing so hard and buying into what we’re doing,” she said. “To ask them to play that much full-court pressure defense in an entire game, they’re just getting better and better at it. So hopefully we’ll go into this weekend strong and ready to roll.” 

North Hall started the game off quickly on both ends, getting back-to-back 3s from Swanson to start things off, and then another trey in the corner from Hollifield to go up 9-2 early. Cherokee Bluff got a few tough layups in the post from Madi Phillips — who led the team with 12 points — and a timely 3-pointer from Alexis Mize late in the opening frame to cut the deficit to just 4 points, but the Lady Trojans took over from there. 

North Hall held the Lady Bears to just 4 total points in the second quarter and enjoyed a pair of 6-0 runs to push the lead to 9 points with two minutes remaining before halftime. Hollifield connected on another two 3s to make it 30-15 going into the break. 

The Lady Trojans followed that up by keeping Cherokee Bluff at just 5 points in the third quarter, as Hollifield and Swanson combined for 8 more to make it a 20-point game going into the fourth. With the game well in hand, both teams emptied the benches to close things out as North Hall cruised to the victory. 

The team will now rest up and prepare for a meeting with Dawson County on Friday at 4 p.m.

“It’s a tough region,” House said. “It’s going to be a tough semifinal on Friday at East Hall. We’ll see what happens.”

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