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Johnson, East Hall boys secure spots in Lanierland championship game
Cockfield, 2 others over 20 points for Knights
1220 Johnson1 JP
Johnson's James Hodges puts up a shot over Gainesville's J.D. Sosebee (15) and Sam Carpenter during the Lanierland semifinals on Thursday at Flowery Branch High. - photo by Jared Putnam


Today’s games

at Lakeview Academy

North Hall boys vs. West Hall, 4 p.m.

Lakeview boys vs. Flowery Branch, 5:30 p.m.

North Hall girls vs. Lakeview Academy, 7 p.m.

Chestatee girls vs. Gainesville, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday’s games

at Lakeview Academy

Johnson girls vs. West Hall, 10 a.m.

Boys’ seventh-place game, 11:30 a.m.

East Hall girls vs. West Hall, 1 p.m.

Boys’ fifth-place game, 2:30 p.m.

Girls’ third-place game, 4 p.m.

Gainesville vs. Chestatee, 5:30 p.m.

Girls’ championship, 7 p.m.

Johnson boys vs. East Hall, 8:30 p.m.

Johnson’s boys basketball team converted 21 of 25 free throws to beat the Gainesville Red Elephants 87-76 on Thursday night in the semifinals of the Lanierland Tournament at Flowery Branch High School.

With the win, the Knights advanced to Saturday’s championship game at Lakeview Academy, where they will face the East Hall Vikings, who rallied to beat Chestatee 74-66 late Thursday.

“I just got done telling them, ‘Guys, if we would have shot free throws like we normally do, it would have been a nail biter,’” Johnson coach Jeff Steele said. “Big time players step up in big time situations.”

Despite the outstanding performance from the free throw line, Steele said his players still felt like they could have done better, a sign of the experience the Knights gained from losing in the tournament championship game last season to North Hall.

“What’s encouraging is we’re in the finals again and they’re pretty upset about their performance,” Steele said.

“They're happy we won, we’re all happy we won, but we’ve got some people doing some soul searching. And that is always good to see when you’re a coach.”

After playing to a nearly even first quarter, which saw Johnson grab a 20-18 lead, the Knights outscored the Red Elephants 21-13 in the second quarter to grab a 41-33 lead at the half.

In the third quarter, the Knights managed to extend their lead into double digits rather quickly, using a pair of baskets from Drew Dunham and Carter Cagle, followed by back-to-back free throws from Dunham.

“Drew Dunham was the star tonight, in every aspect,” Steele said. “He runs our team, man. We would not be anything close to what we are without him.”

Gainesville responded, using a slam dunk from Ithello Cross followed by a Johnson turnover to make the score 48-41. Steele immediately called a timeout to keep momentum from swaying towards Gainesville. That decision paid off.

Johnson came out of the timeout and outscored the Red Elephants 11-6 to close out the third quarter, and then opened the fourth quarter with a 12-6 run to build an 18-point lead, 71-53.

“It was one of those things where I didn’t want momentum getting away,” Steele said. “It basically happened because my kids didn’t run the floor on that possession.”

Johnson’s Ty Cockfield led all scorers with 26 points on the night, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter. James Hodges finished with 25 points, while Dunham added 21 points for the Knights.

Nam Van Dulm’s 20 points led Gainesville, while teammate Sam Carpenter finished with 12 points. Cedric Bryant contributed with nine points. Gainesville will face Chestatee in the third-place game Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

EAST HALL BOYS 74, CHESTATEE 66: East Hall advanced to Saturday’s championship game after rallying in the final 12 minutes of the semifinal game against the War Eagles on Thursday night.

Trailing 53-43 at the midway point of the third quarter, the Vikings came to life and put together a 12-2 run to close out the third quarter, evening the score at 55-55.

The momentous run for East Hall carried into the fourth quarter. The Vikings used a 14-4 run to open the final quarter of play to grab a 69-59 lead, their largest of the game.

Chestatee attempted to rally, closing back within five points, but a 5-0 run by the Vikings pushed the game out of reach.

Chestatee came out on fire in the opening quarter, connecting on three 3-pointers to grab a 25-16 lead. The War Eagles led at halftime, 42-34.

Jacquen Hopkins led East Hall with 23 points, while Kyvon Davenport finished with 21 and Caleb Holtzclaw contributed with 11.

For Chestatee, Jordan Pulliam led all scorers with 24 points, and Hunter Creamer finished with 16 points. Joey Scheman scored 12 points in the first half, but was held scoreless in the second half.

With the loss, Chestatee will face Gainesville in the third-place game Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

EAST HALL GIRLS 51, JOHNSON 17: Jatasia Bailey scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Lady Vikings to a win in the girls consolation bracket,

Bailey scored 17 of her 20 points in the first half, helping East Hall build a mammoth 33-9 lead at halftime. From there, the Lady Vikings were able to rotate in several players, building a 48-13 lead at the end of the third quarter.

East Hall will face Flowery Branch in the fifth-place game Saturday at Lakeview Academy. The game is set to begin at 1 p.m.

FLOWERY BRANCH GIRLS 50, WEST HALL 25: Seven different players scored in the first half for the Lady Falcons, who outscored the Lady Spartans 28-9 across the opening two quarters.

The dominating start proved to be the ultimate difference, as the teams played to a fairly equal second half.

Flowery Branch had two players — Breanna Locke and Janoah Williams — finish in double figures on the night.

Locke led all scorers with 14 points, while Williams finished with 10. Heather Moore contributed with seven points, all coming in the first half.

With the win, the Lady Falcons advanced to the fifth-place game, while West Hall faces Johnson in the seventh-place game Saturday at 10 a.m. The game will be played at Lakeview Academy.

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