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High school basketball: North Hall girls smash Savannah in second round of Class 3A state tournament
With the win, Trojans will host Morgan County in the quarterfinals next week
North Hall's Rylee McCall goes up for a basket against Savannah during the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs Wednesday in Gainesville. Photos by Natalae La Douceur

The North Hall girls basketball team’s storybook season continued Wednesday evening with a wall-to-wall, 55-33 win at home over Savannah in the Class 3A tournament round of 16.

The Lady Trojans’ win coincided with a Morgan County upset over Tatnall County across the state, that will keep North Hall at home for one more round next week against the Lady Bulldogs in the quarterfinals. The team has drawn large crowds throughout its region and state tournament runs, and Lady Trojans coach Kristi House said she’s counting on another big turnout next week to help power the team to state semifinals.

“Our community is great,” she said. “They’re just coming out and coming out. The kids feed off it, so we need everybody here next week, right back.”

Wednesday’s victory came off the back of another strong defensive effort from North Hall, as the Lady Trojans held the Lady Bluejackets to 10 or fewer points in all four quarters of the game. They also completely shut down Savannah post player Martina Stokes, stopping her at just 3 points on the night despite her size advantage against most North Hall defenders.

“She challenged our team, because she’s a great player,” House said of Stokes. “I thought we handled her on the defensive end, so that helped.”

Offensively, North Hall was led by senior forward Grace Hollifield, who scored 23 points — connecting on six 3-pointers, five coming in the first half. 

Hollifield got the scoring started early for the Lady Trojans, putting in a pair of 3s from deep on the right side and then hitting another from a couple feet beyond the arc on the left. Hollifield’s third make put North Hall on top 9-2 early and drew Lady Trojans supporters around the gymnasium to their feet.

“Grace puts us on her back sometimes,” House said.

Savannah scored 6 straight to get to within 2 points of the lead by the end of the first quarter, and maintained that narrow deficit throughout much of the second. But Hollifield started to put some distance between the teams right before halftime, hitting on two more treys in the final two minutes of the frame to put North Hall up by 7 at the break.

The Lady Bluejackets kept the Lady Trojans from really pulling away to start off the second half, but a pair of free throws and another 3 from Hollifield set off a 9-1 North Hall run that gave the Lady Trojans their first double-digit lead of the game right before the start of the fourth. 

Savannah’s Tanya Hodges scored on a layup and swished a 3 early in the final period to give the Lady Bluejackets a brief glimmer of hope, but North Hall scored the last 10 points of the contest to put the game out of reach, keeping the Lady Bluejackets off the board entirely in the final three minutes of the game.

With the win, North Hall now turns its attention to Morgan County for one last game on Lynn Cottrell Court to close out a home season of many high points.

“We’re going to do it one more time,” House said. “We’re super excited.” 

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