After watching what transpired earlier in Monday’s first-round action of the Lanierland Tournament at Chestatee High, North Hall girls coach Kristi House was reminded that no margin was insurmountable.
So when the Lady Trojans held on for a 60-55 win against West Hall (4-7), despite holding a comfortable, double-digit lead heading into the fourth period, there was really no room to complain.
Earlier in the day, Gainesville’s boys overcame a 26-point deficit to start the fourth quarter to defeat West Hall.
“We had to show some poise there in the fourth quarter when West Hall started to come back,” House said. “We’re happy to get the win.”
The Lady Trojans led 44-31 after three quarters against West Hall. However, the Lady Spartans managed to put a severe dent in North Hall’s lead with 24 fourth-quarter points and strong free throw shooting.
“West Hall really started to pressure us there late and really did a good job of hurrying us,” House said. “They made some big shots down the stretch.”
With the win, North Hall (3-3) faces Chestatee (7-0) at 7:30 tonight in the tournament semifinals. The Lady War Eagles were a 52-19 first-round winner against Jefferson.
In the fourth quarter, North Hall preserved its win with some clutch baskets from McKenna Rushton, including a 3-pointer with 5:18 left to play to build a 50-39 lead. Jordan Nix was also big with four free throws in the final minute for North Hall to keep it at a two-possession game.
But North Hall’s lead was going to be challenged thanks to scrappy play from West Hall and its ability to create turnovers.
West Hall got to within 53-50 with 2:15 left to play with a 3-point play from Amber Johnson, who finished with a game-high 18 points.
“I thought we played really hard,” West Hall coach Lynn Jarrett said. “We could have quit when we got down, but kept fighting.
“The mistakes we’re making are just due to lack of experience. I feel like we’re coming around and we’re going to win some games.”
In the third quarter, it looked like North Hall was going to cruise to victory. The Lady Trojans scored on a pair of quick baskets from Nix, followed by a 3-point play by Paschall to stretch the lead 40-27 late in the third period.
Mary Kate Rushton led North Hall with 16 points and Paschall finished with 11.
For West Hall, Brooke Reed had 14 points and Maia Booker scored 10. The Lady Spartans face Jefferson in the consolation round at 3 p.m. today at Chestatee.
GAINESVILLE GIRLS 45, FLOWERY BRANCH 40: Rebecca Webster hit a pair of free throws with only three seconds left in the game and finished with a game-high 17 for the Lady Red Elephants (5-5) in the opening round of the Lanierland.
With the win, Gainesville advances to face East Hall at 6 p.m. tonight in a girls semifinal at Chestatee.
Flowery Branch (1-8) drew to with two points when Tavia Sykes hit 2 of 3 free throws with 16.6 seconds remaining in the game. Cara Chilton led Flowery Branch with 12 points and Sykes finished with 11.
With the loss, the Lady Falcons face Johnson in the consolation bracket at noon today at Chestatee.
In the third quarter, Flowery Branch managed to tie the game at 29 when Sykes hit a jump shot in the lane.
However, Gainesville pulled ahead permanently when Mikalyn DeFoor (13 points) came through with a 3-pointer, and Katelyn Whelchel’s basket with 1:10 remaining in the third period gave the Lady Red Elephants their biggest second half lead at 41-32.
Gainesville finished 19 for 26 on free throws and hit five 3-point baskets.
CHESTATEE GIRLS 52, JEFFERSON 19: Erin Clifford scored 15 points and added three rebounds and Class AAA’s third-ranked Lady War Eagles cruised to the win Monday.
Rachel Kelley added 12 points and four rebounds for Chestatee, which held a 31-7 lead at halftime.
Despite her playing time being limited by early foul trouble and a big lead in the second half, Peyton Robertson still managed six points, four rebounds and two blocks for the Lady War Eagles (7-0), who will face North Hall at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Chestatee.
Bailey Boyd scored seven points to lead Jefferson (5-5), which plays the loser of North Hall/West Hall at 3 p.m. today at Chestatee.
Jefferson will play West Hall at a 3 p.m. Tuesday at Chestatee.
EAST HALL GIRLS 54, JOHNSON 21: The Lady Vikings scored 19 points in each of the first two quarters to take a 38-12 lead at halftime and rout the Lady Knights.
Taylor Bishop led all scorers with 16 points for East Hall (3-2).
Jasmine Jenkins scored 15 and Morgan Jackson added 12 for the Lady Vikings.
Brittney Greene scored six points to lead Johnson (5-3), which faces the loser of Gainesville/Flowery Branch at noon today at Chestatee.
East Hall plays Gainesville in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Chestatee.
Johnson plays Flowery Branch in the consolation bracket at noon Tuesday at Chestatee.
Times sports writer James Wolfe contributed to this report.