Follow North Hall's Class AAA semifinal game against Washington County LIVE today on gainesvilletimes.com/sports.
Visit us when the game starts at 4 p.m. to watch the live gametracker and keep up with the score and stats as the Lady Trojans look to advance to the Class AAA state championship game.
North Hall vs. Washington County
When: 4 p.m. today
Where: Macon Centreplex
Records: North Hall (24-7, No. 1 Region 8-AAA); Washington County (30-0, No. 1 Region 3-AAA)
Coaches: North Hall, Kristi House. Washington County, Sug Parker.
Key players: North Hall, PG Taylor Swoszowski (5-5, Sr.); F McKenna Rushton (5-11, Sr.); G Mary Kate Rushton (5-10, Sr.). Washington County, G Allisha Gray (5-11, Jr.); G Sheirkerriea Nelson (5-6, Sr.).
Outlook: The Lady Trojans are just one win away from the goal that the six seniors set for themselves way back in the seventh grade - get to the state championship.
The last hurdle to that goal is the biggest. Defending Class AAA state champs Washington County has won 62 consecutive games, dating back to the 2010 state tournament. Led by Class AAA's leading scorer in Gray (32 points per game), the Lady Golden Hawks have won every game this season by double digits, including a 58-46 win over Monroe County in the quarterfinals.
While Washington County is allowing just 41 points per game on defense, it's the offensive output that sticks out - 69 points per game.
It's also the reason that North Hall coach Kristi House said she is looking for her squad to try to slow down the Lady Golden Hawks. That will include slowing the pace and not losing sight of Gray, who scored 32 points and added 17 rebounds and seven blocks in the win over Monroe.
"We can't lose track of her," House said. "We'll have a few players to help guard her, including (senior guard) Tiffany (Hamilton)."
While the Lady Trojans have shown an ability to play solid defense, holding their first two state tournament opponents to less than 50 points and keeping Allatoona in check until the final minutes, they can score with just about anyone, averaging 57 points per game this season.
Twin sisters Mary Kate and McKenna Rushton average 13 points per game this season, and Swoszowski is averaging just under 10 points. The point guard led the team with 17 points in the quarterfinals, and was one of four players to score in double figures.
Senior Sarah Paschall (seven points per game) and freshman Sydney Cleveland (six points) have provided more offense in the paint. Cleveland scored 11 in the win over Allatoona and has fit in well with the senior-laden team.
"I've always wanted to have a chance to play with these seniors," she said.
Now she has a chance to help them accomplish their goal of a state championship game appearance. Against the defending state champs, as against Allatoona, House expects to use a number of bench players in addition to the five senior starters.