OAKWOOD—Johnson High shooting guard Brandon Sloan felt like it was time to provide the senior leadership that the Knights were lacking.
According to Sloan, two consecutive losses on Johnson's home court wasn’t something he wanted to experience.
His leadership paid off, as the 6-foot-4 guard paced the Knights (5-3) with 25 points, defeating North Hall 72-67 in the consolation round of the Jackson EMC Lanierland Basketball Tournament on Tuesday night in Oakwood.
"I just finally realized that it was my senior year and it was time to do something," Sloan said. "I tried to capitalize on every opportunity tonight. ... I just waited on my shots and didn’t force anything."
"The win feels so good," Sloan added. "They came (to Johnson) last week and beat us, and revenge was on all of our minds. It was just a big win."
Sloan guided the Knights to their fifth win of the season, knocking down four free throws in the final minute of the game, bringing his second-half points total to 13.
"I benched a couple of the seniors at the end of the East Hall game because I didn’t feel like they gave me the leadership I was looking for," Johnson coach Jeff Steele said. "But they acted like they didn’t like (being benched), so it’s worked out in our favor."
Fellow Johnson senior Colby Horne also felt like it was time for him to do his "job" as a senior. Horne, who effectively pressured North Hall’s guards throughout the entirety of the game, gave the Knights a 68-67 lead with 23 seconds remaining in the game.
Following two made free throws by Sloan, Horne continued his pressure defense, stealing the ball from North Hall’s point guard, making a layup, increasing Johnson’s lead to 72-67, sealing the Knights’ victory. Horne finished the game with seven points.
"It felt good to give us a lead," Horne said with a smile. "As a senior, I felt like I needed to do something big for my team. As soon as I stole it, I knew he was going to foul me, so I just made sure I made the ball go in."
Despite trailing 55-48 at the end of the third quarter, Johnson’s full court man-to-man defense seemed to wear down a young Trojans (3-2) team.
The Knights opened the fourth quarter with a 14-2 run, giving Johnson their first lead of the second half.
"We pressed the whole game, but we finally turned up the heat in the fourth quarter," said Steele when asked about his pressure defense. "I brought the guys over at the end of the third (quarter) and told the guys to limit the turnovers and turn up the heat on defense.
"If you’ve got something let at the end, and you can turn it up, then I think that gives you an advantage."
Johnson junior guard Davaris Finch finished the game with 18 points, Robert Taylor added eight points and Mick Shannon chipped in seven.
North Hall senior Brannon Nix led North Hall with 15 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Seniors Andrew Peck and Drew Hill finished with eight points a piece.
West Hall visits White County at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Lakeview Academy 40
The Chestatee High girls basketball team rebounded from its first round loss to East Hall, defeating Lakeview Academy 53-40 Tuesday night in the consolation round of the Jackson EMC Lanierland Tournament in Oakwood.
Chestatee held a 30-18 lead entering the intermission, thanks in large part to forward Peyton Robertson. The 6-foot-0 freshman led the War Eagles (4-4) with 14 points.
Chestatee senior Erica Lackey added nine points.
Brittany Moore and Louisa Jacobs each scored nine for the Lady Lions (1-5). Megan Rochester and Brooke Windle each chipped in seven.
Chestatee visits West Forsyth at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
West Hall 40,
Senior guard Kim Smigelsky led West Hall with 19 points, as the Lady Spartans picked up their fourth win of the season in the consolation round of the Jackson EMC Lanierland Basketball Tournament in Oakwood.
The Lady Spartans pressure defense proved to be effective, holding the Lady Knights to eight points in the first quarter and four in the third.
Jordan Gustavel led Johnson with 13 points and Shekeria Cooper chipped in 11.
West Hall visits Gilmer at 6 p.m. Monday. Johnson visits White County at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The Gainesville High boys basketball team got back on its winning ways, defeating West Hall 79-66 Tuesday night in the consolation round of the Jackson EMC Lanierland Tournament in Oakwood.
Gainesville overcame a 38-37 lead at halftime, outscoring the Spartans 37-28 in the second half.
Junior guard George Manomano led the Red Elephants (3-5) with 30 points, including two 3-pointers. Gerald Ford and Allan Dockery each added 17.
Ricky Vital led West Hall with 18 points. Terrell Penland and Shunquez Stephens each chipped in 12.
Gainesville plays host to Lumpkin County at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, while West Hall visits Gilmer at 7:30 p.m. Monday.