Lanierland: Today’s games
Gainesville girls vs. Flowery Branch
Johnson boys vs. Lakeview
North Hall girls vs. East Hall
West Hall boys vs. North Hall
Games begin at 4 p.m. at
Gainesville High School
The semifinals and finals were moved up a day to accommodate those interested in watching the Flowery Branch football team play Cairo in the Class AAA state championship at 5 p.m. Saturday.
History will be made on the boys side of the bracket because neither Gainesville nor East Hall are in the semifinals.
This year will mark the second time since 1968 (41 tournaments) that neither team will make the championship game.
"I know one thing. I'm sure both teams will be good by the end of the year.," Gainesville coach Todd Cottrell said following his team's 72-60 win over East Hall in the consolation round of this year's tournament. "I expect to see both teams be ready for the region. But it was a little strange not to have us playing for something more."
Those vying for the championship have, between them, eight titles.
North Hall has won it five times and Johnson three, but neither West Hall nor Lakeview have won a title in the school's history.
The girls side boasts perennial Lanierland powerhouses Gainesville and East Hall, as well as defending Lanierland champion North Hall.
Flowery Branch is the only girls team playing in this year's semifinals that has not won a title, but can get one step closer with a win over Gainesville in the first game at 4 p.m. today.
Flowery Branch reached the semis with defensive prowess and a 31-22 win over West Hall.
The Lady Falcons held West Hall to two third-quarter points and no double-digit scorers.
Gainesville reached the semis with a 52-42 win over Chestatee.
Junior center Jaymee Carnes led a balanced Lady Red Elephants' offensive attack with 16 points.
The Johnson and Lakeview boys will go head-to-head in the first boys semifinal matchup.
The two teams have met only once before, two years ago in Lanierland, with the Lions taking that game 93-85.
Johnson beat Chestatee 62-71 to reach the semis while Lakeview shocked defending Region 7-AAA champion Flowery Branch 79-63 to make its third straight trip to the Lanierland round of four.
The Knights come in averaging 65 points per game, led by point guard Devaris Finch (18 points per game) while giving up 56. Lakeview, which had 10 players contribute in its win over the Falcons, is averaging 68 points per game and giving up 62.
The girls' No. 1 seed North Hall will take on East Hall in the 7 p.m. game.
Both teams boast young contributors in Jasmine Jenkins and Morgan Jackson for East Hall and McKenna Rushton and Taylor Tate for North Hall.
The ability of those four, along with point guards and lone returning starters Dorreka Faulkner for East Hall and Shannon Haire for North Hall, to not only handle the opposition's pressure but also the packed gym that will await them come 7 p.m. will go a long way in determining which team plays for the title.
In the nightcap, the two teams responsible for the changing of the guard seen in the this year's tournament will face off.
Undefeated and No. 1 seed West Hall, which beat Gainesville 75-68 in the first round will play North Hall, which beat East Hall 98-84.
West Hall has a multitude of scorers for North Hall to contend with, led by Shunquez Stephens (28 points, 14 rebounds against Gainesville) and Kevon Williams (14 points against Gainesville).
North Hall, on the other hand has a fearless senior leader in Ethan Satterfield (18 points versus East Hall) who leads a team of fearless role players, five of which scored in double figures against the Vikings.
The Spartans, much like East Hall, will be monstrous rebounders. North Hall, however, has had good practice containing that aspect of an opponent's game having outrebounded East Hall 22-16.