FLOWERY BRANCH — In the game of basketball, there are only a handful of controllable factors, and whether or not the ball goes in the basket isn’t one of them.
On what North Hall coach Benjie Wood deemed a poor shooting night for his team, the Trojans controlled the intensity in how they played defense and rebounded, forcing 29 West Hall turnovers while accumulating 15 steals on their way to a 60-39 win Thursday night in the semifinals of the 50th annual Lanierland Basketball Tournament.
The Trojans also outrebounded the Spartans 29-21 in the victory.
“We pride ourselves on defense,” North Hall coach Benjie Wood said. “I tell the guys all the time that shooting comes and goes, but you have to bring the defensive intensity.”
With the win, North Hall is in the Lanierland championship game for the first time in Wood’s four years at the helm of the program. The Trojans will face East Hall for the title at 8:30 tonight at Flowery Branch High.
West Hall, the defending Lanierland champions, will play Flowery Branch in the boys’ consolation game at 5:30 tonight at Flowery Branch High.
The Trojans held a 12-6 lead after one and an eight-point lead at the half thanks to a stifling full-court press and a version of half-court defense that left no gap unmanned.
“All of our kids have worked hard at developing their skills,” Wood said. “While we have good shooters, that wasn’t a part of our game that was on tonight and we won because of a collective team effort.”
North Hall opened the second half on a 7-0 run that began and ended on the scoring of freshman Ethan Smith.
Smith hit a 3-pointer to get things started, and then hit a timeout-enducing layup that put his team up 31-16. The Trojans rolled from there, taking an 18-point lead with just under three minutes to go in the third.
Smith finished with seven points and as one of eight Trojans scorers for the game. Trevor Ross, Lance White and Robby Hill each finished with eight while sophomore Kanlor Coker led the team with 15 points.
“It’s all about the process,” Wood said. “We’re about kids doing the right thing and I tell them if you work hard and do the right things, good things will come.
“This is a good group and I sure am excited to be in the finals.”
West Hall was led by Shunquez Stephens with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Jarquise Young, who finished with eight points.
NORTH HALL GIRLS 51, LAKEVIEW 29: After leading by only two points at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Trojans outscored Lakeview 26-10 over the next two quarters en route to a win Thursday night in the semifinals of the 50th annual Lanierland Basketball Tournament at Flowery Branch High.
McKenna Rushton scored a game-high 16 points and had eight rebounds for North Hall (5-0). Mary Kate Rushton added 15 points for a Lady Trojans team that will face Gainesville at 7 tonight in the Lanierland championship.
Lakeview (2-2) was led by Maddie Haymore with 12 points and Jamie Mixon with six points and six rebounds. The Lady Lions will face East Hall at 4 p.m. today in the consolation round of Lanierland.
GAINESVILLE GIRLS 57, EAST HALL 45: Jaymee Carnes scored 18 of her 26 points in the second half to lead the Lady Red Elephants to a win Thursday night in the semifinals of the 50th annual Lanierland Tournament at Flowery Branch High School.
Gainesville (3-3) will face North Hall in the championship game at 7 tonight at Flowery Branch High. East Hall will play Lakeview in the girls’ consolation game at 4 p.m. today at Flowery Branch High.
The Lady Red Elephants, after trailing 26-21 at halftime, took their first lead — 31-30 — on a layup by Lindsey Floyd with four minutes remaining in the third quarter.
They would only build on that lead for the rest of the third quarter, ending it on a 10-2 run that included six straight by Carnes to take an 11-point lead into the final period.
East Hall (2-2) was led by junior Natalie Johnson and sophomore Jasmine Jenkins who each scored 10 points.
Mikalyn DeFoor and Loren Thomas added 10 and nine points respectively for Gainesville.
EAST HALL BOYS 81, FLOWERY BRANCH 76: After Flowery Branch took its first lead of the game at 44-43 on a leaner by Ishmael Hollis with seven minutes to go in the third quarter, East Hall responded with a 13-6 run capped by a layup by Nolan Carter en route to a win Thursday in the semifinals of Lanierland at Flowery Branch High.
East Hall will play North Hall in the championship game at 8:30 tonight at Flowery Branch High, while Flowery Branch will play West Hall in the consolation game.
Joshua Hampton led the Vikings (3-1) with 25 points and Charles Perry added 16.
Hollis led all scorers with 37 points in the loss while Joshten Hopkins contributed 16.