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Lady War Eagles hold off North Hall
Chestatee’s Melissa Bailey is blocked by North Hall’s Sarah Paschall, left, and Tiffany Hamilton on Friday during a game at North Hall High School. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

North Hall’s girls basketball team came at Chestatee with an aggressive defensive plan that forced turnovers and kept the game close, but the post presence of Peyton Robertson, coupled with the 3-point shooting of Emily Crain was enough for the No. 8 Lady War Eagles to pull out a 55-43 victory over the Lady Trojans on Friday at North Hall.

North Hall’s boys salvaged the split with a 77-36 win.

It was the 8A-AAA subregion opener for both schools, and the Lady War Eagles improved to 12-2, while the Lady Trojans fell to 5-7.

“1-0 is what we say,” said Robertson, who led all scorers with 19 points. “Forget the beginning of the season, because it’s all about the subregion.”

Chestatee led 17-6 after one quarter and 28-17 at halftime. While the North Hall defense, led by twin sisters McKenna and Mary Kate Rushton, forced 19 turnovers that led to easy baskets, the Lady War Eagles never strayed from their game plan and built a lead with an inside-out game that eventually wore the Lady Trojans down.

“We were very patient on offense,” Lady War Eagles coach Web Daniel said. “We knew (their defense) was coming, and we had to make some plays. We spread the floor and made plays when they made mistakes.”

To counter North Hall’s zone, Chestatee passed around the perimeter to control the clock, then dumped the ball inside to Robertson, who scored most of her points on 3-foot turnarounds and shots underneath the basket. When double- and triple-teams came at her, she kicked it out to Crain, who drilled four 3-pointers — three in the first half — to account for all 12 of her points.

“Emily Crain had a great night,” Robertson said. “She came out on fire, and that really helped out a lot.”

Chestatee pushed the lead to 42-23 — it’s largest lead of the game — with 37 seconds left in a third quarter where the Lady War Eagles missed just two field goals, going 4 of 5 with a 3-pointer, and shooting 4-for-4 from the free throw line.

But North Hall made one final push.

The Lady Trojans went on a 10-0 run to pull within nine with 5:39 left, but their risk-taking ways on the defensive end caught up with them, and Chestatee attempted 14 free throws, and McKenna Rushton fouled out with 4:21 remaining.

The Lady War Eagles made nine of those free throws to put the game away.

“The game of basketball is a game of runs and they made that last one,” Daniel said. “But they had to foul eventually, and we made our free throws.”

Robertson finished with a team-high seven rebounds as Chestatee beat North Hall 23-10 on the boards. The Lady War Eagles were 5-for-11 from 3-point range, and 18-for-26 from the free throw line. They made 16 of their 33 field goals.

Melissa Bailey had seven points and six rebounds and Rachel Kelley had five points and six rebounds for Chestatee.

Mary Kate Rushton led North Hall with 17 points and was the Lady Trojans’ only double-digit scorer.

NORTH HALL BOYS 77, CHESTATEE 36: North Hall scored points in the paint and forced 29 turnovers to open a 24-7 lead and run away with the game.

“We came out with an emphasis on just playing as a team tonight,” Trojans coach Benjie Wood said. “All the guys on team really sold out on that, and that’s what started it all. We truly looked like a team tonight, and it’s always good to start out 1-0 (in the subregion).

“What we have to do right now is not get too high, stay even keel and just focus on what gets us to where we are, and that’s the attention to detail.”

Kanler Coker led all scorers with 17 points, Lance White had 16 points, and Imani Cross had 10 points and six rebounds for the Trojans (7-4, 1-0).

Though it wasn’t the start to subregion play War Eagles coach Gary Barnes wanted, he saw some things he liked in his young, inexperienced team that has just three seniors.

“We’re looking for our kids to grow up and get a little tougher,” Barnes said. “Our school is only 10 years old, so we’re trying to develop some tradition and some substance to our kids and some pride in our school. I thought I saw that tonight just a little bit, and we’re going to try and build on it.”

Junior Cole Morgan (15 points) and sophomore Keelan Passmore (11 points) led the War Eagles (1-11, 0-1).

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