GAINESVILLE — In an environment that could best be described as hostile on both sides, the East Hall girls led by Tierra Benton’s 22 points and nine rebounds beat North Hall 55-34 on Friday night at North Hall.
"I thought we were good tonight," East Hall coach Joey Rider said. "We did a good job of helping in the paint with (Letiecia) Davenport in there; she’s a good player.
"We took care of the basketball the whole night and rebounded very well."
The win moves the Lady Vikings into a tie with Gilmer for the top spot in subregion 7A-AAA. Gilmer kept pace Friday night with a win over Lumpkin County.
As would be the case most of the game — at least when the Lady Vikings (15-5, 6-2 Region 7A-AAA) needed a basket — the high-low hookup between Benton, who was 8-for-10 from the field, and South Carolina signee Sada Wheeler was working to near perfection.
The twosome scored East Hall’s first seven points and accounted for the first three assists.
"We’re both really tall," Benton said.
Sada Wheeler interjected that the two are, "Always looking for each other."
"We also know that if one misses it’s more than likely that the other will get the rebound," Benton said.
Wheeler finished the game with 16 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.
Overall, Benton and Wheeler contributed 38 of the Lady Vikings 55 points, most coming off the high-low game or offensive rebounds.
"They make my job a lot easier than it should be," Rider said. "They just have chemistry."
The Lady Trojans (15-7, 5-3 Region 7A-AAA) were able to stay with East Hall for much of the first half, and even led at the end of the first quarter, thanks to the play of seniors Davenport and Elizabeth Williams.
The two were a combined 9-of-16 from the field in the first half and accounted for all 19 of North Hall’s first-half points. The rest of the team was a combined 0-of-8 from the field.
The first points of the second half were scored two minutes into the third quarter on a steal and layup by Davenport, who finished with a team-high 14 points on 7-of-17 shooting.
North Hall scored just four more points in the quarter as a result of East Hall’s stingy defense. Meanwhile the Lady Vikings, namely Benton, took it upon themselves to virtually end the game by the end of the third quarter by scoring 12 points and extending their lead to 13.
"TT (Benton) played great defense all night," Rider said. "But there in the third quarter she was responsible for giving us a cushion. She created a couple of turnovers and sparked us and got us going."
Benton scored 11 points, on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field, in the third period including four straight on two different occassions.
"I tried to step up my play in the third quarter," Benton said. "I didn’t feel like I played as hard as I could in the first half so I just tried to come out and hustle."
With the loss, North Hall drops to a tie for second in the subregion with Chestatee.
"People say, ‘You’re peaking at the right time,’" Rider said. "Well, hopefully we’re not peaking and hopefully we’re simply getting a little better each game."
The Lady Trojans return to action at 4 today when they play at Buford, while East Hall next plays at 6 p.m. Tuesday when they play host to White County.
East Hall boys 69, North Hall 50
Led by seniors Dedric Ware, who finished with 18 points, and Ken Wise, who added 15 points, the Vikings moved into sole possession of first place in the subregion standings with their win over North Hall on Friday night at North Hall.
Junior Kiante Young got things started for the Vikings scoring for seven straight to open the game as East Hall (17-5, 7-1 Region 7A-AAA) jumped out to an early lead.
East Hall took its biggest lead of the game, 13 points, with a little over two minutes to play in the third quarter but that lead didn’t last long as Brannon Nix hit a 3-pointer on North Hall’s ensuing possesion to move the Trojans deficit back to 10 points.
Thanks to an East Hall turnover, North Hall had a chance to cut the lead to single digits with time for one final possession before the third quarter buzzer sounded.
It wasn’t to be, however, as an errant inbounds pass led to a Ware steal and floater from just inside the 3-point line that banked in as the buzzer sounded giving the Vikings a 12-point lead going into the final period.
As East Hall pulled away in the fourth quarter, fans from both sides of the court verbally expelled the tension that had been mounting all game and numerou fans were ejected and escorted out of the gym by three Hall County Sheriff’s deputies.
North Hall was led by Ethan Satterfield with 13 points before leaving late in the game with an ankle injury. He was the lone double-digit scorer for a Trojans team that had nine roster players score.
The Vikings next play at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when they play host to White County.
North Hall returns to action at 5:30 tonight at Buford.