OAKWOOD — While her night didn’t start off too well, Jayla Moon more than made up for it in the end.
After missing her first six shots of the game, Moon converted on her next eight attempts, finished with a game-high 34 points to lead the West Hall Lady Spartans to a 60-56 overtime win against Lumpkin County on Tuesday night in Oakwood.
“She felt it, and that’s good for us,” West Hall coach Lynn Jarrett said. “That’s what you expect from your stars.”
One rebound shy of recording her second straight double-double, Moon also led the Lady Spartans (3-2) on defense with five steals.
“They beat us last year, so I took that energy and built on it,” said Moon, referring to Lumpkin County’s three-point victory that ended West Hall’s season last year. “I just kept pushing and trying and I wasn’t about to give up.”
Nor were her teammates, who watched a five-point lead disappear in the final minute of the game.
After Moon hit a step-back 3-pointer to get that lead, Lumpkin County (1-3) reeled off four straight points, including a put-back off an offensive rebound by Ashely Brown.
Seconds later, Cara Malone tied the game with a made free throw, giving the ball back to West Hall with less than 15 seconds left to play.
Holding the ball for the last shot, West Hall’s Emily Hammond was fouled on the perimeter, sending the junior guard to the line with a chance to give the Lady Spartans the lead.
Hammond converted, but as time was winding down in regulation, Moon fouled Malone and gave Lumpkin County a chance to send the game to overtime.
Despite missing five free throws earlier in the game, Malone stepped to the line and knocked down both attempts.
“I know she’s a clutch player,” Jarrett said. “We were hoping she’d miss that second one, but she didn’t. That’s what you expect players like her to do.”
Just as Malone was expected to knock down the free throws and send the game to overtime, Jarrett was counting on her playmaker to lead the team to victory. And while Moon’s five points in overtime helped stave off defeat, it was Hammond’s three free throws in the period that sealed the win.
“Emily has really been working on her free throws, and has gotten better with that,” said Jarrett, who also complimented the play of Bailey Soucie (13 points, five assists) and Nicole Breseman, who took two charges and finished with a game-high 11 rebounds.
While the play of Moon, Soucie, Hammond and Breseman were commendable, the 27 turnovers that West Hall committed left something to be desired.
“It wasn’t a pretty win,” Jarrett said. “We don’t win pretty, but I appreciate their effort because I feel Lumpkin has a very good team.”
That good team was led by Malone’s 19 points and Brown, who finished with 17 points, five assists, five rebounds and a game-high six steals.
“They have a star too in Ashely (Brown),” Jarrett said. “I told our team earlier that our star needed to be better than their star, and she was tonight.”
The win is the second straight overtime victory for the Lady Spartans, who beat Monroe Area on Saturday at the East Jackson Tip-Off Tournament.
West Hall finished third in that tournament and hope to have another good showing on Friday when it opens up the Lanierland Tournament. Lumpkin County visits West Forsyth at 6 p.m. Dec. 9.
West Hall boys 77, Lumpkin County 64
Behind a fast-paced offense and a pressure-packed defense, the West Hall boys built an early lead and never looked back on Tuesday against Lumpkin County.
Led by Kavon Williams’ 18 points, the Spartans (5-0) outscored the Indians (2-2) by six points in the first quarter, and headed to halftime with a 10 point lead.
Lumpkin County’s E.J. Young tried his best to keep the Indians close by scoring 13 of his team-high 17 points in the first half.
But Young’s efforts weren’t enough to keep the Spartans from building an 18-point lead midway through the third quarter. Williams, Rodney Gibson and Marquise Stephens were the catalysts behind the scoring barrage, combining for 12 of the team’s 18 third-quarter points.
Gibson ended the night with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Stephens chipped in with 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting.
Lumpkin County was led by Young’s 17 points, Ryan Sheffield’s 16 points (seven rebounds), Chris Guthrie’s 12 points and Austin Tolbert’s 10 points.
West Hall, which is off to its best start since the team started 3-0 in 2004-05, will look to continue its winning ways when it takes to the court at the Lanierland Tournament, starting Friday. Lumpkin County visits West Forsyth at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9.