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Lanierland: Smith leads North Hall to OT win over Gainesville
Trojans advance to play Johnson in championship game
Gainesville High's Luke Maddox, center, looks for help while being pressured by North Hall's Zach Tibbs, left, and Brock Wingo during the first half of their Lanierland Tournament game at the North Hall gymnasium Friday night.

Lanierland Tournament at North Hall High School

Championship game

Flowery Branch girls vs. Chestatee, 6 p.m.

North Hall boys vs. Johnson, 7:30 p.m.

3rd-place game

East Hall girls vs. North Hall, 3 p.m.

Gainesville boys vs. West Hall, 4:30 p.m.

5th-place game

Gainesville girls vs. West Hall, noon

Lakeview boys vs. East Hall, 1:30 p.m.

7th-place game

Johnson girls vs. Lakeview, 9 a.m.

Chestatee boys vs. Flowery Branch, 10:30 a.m.

North Hall senior Ebo Smith knew coming in to Friday’s game in his home gym that he was expected to score.

At halftime, he took it to heart.

Smith finished with a career-high 39 points, 34 in the second half and overtime, to lead North Hall to a 72-70 overtime win against Gainesville and advance to the finals of the Lanierland tournament.

The Trojans (6-1) will play Johnson at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at North Hall in the championship game.

Smith said North Hall coach Benjie Wood had texted him early in the week that he would need to score in order to beat Gainesville, something he reiterated at halftime, with North Hall down by one at 19-18.

But Wood had only asked his star guard for 30 points.

“He kind of went above and beyond,” Wood said. “Down the stretch, he’s our guy. He’s a clutch player, and I knew he’d step up in a big game.”

Smith’s clutch shooting continued to the very end. He scored nine of his team’s 12 points in overtime after Gainesville (1-5) rallied to tie in regulation, including a pair of free throws with two seconds remaining to put the Trojans ahead by two. Gainesville’s final shot hit the rim and bounced out, sending the tournament’s defending champions to the third place game at 4:30 p.m. Saturday against West Hall.

Smith credited his teammates for feeding him the ball in the second half and overtime. Clearly the Trojans made the right choice in getting it to Smith, who foreshadowed his record night with a long, buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter to cut Gainesville’s lead to two points. It was his third trey of the quarter.

The outburst followed a first half in which neither team could do much to score, although Smith tried to get the offense going.

“I like to get people involved early in the game,” Smith said. “But at halftime coach gave us a pretty good talk.”

Gainesville, led by Shaquan Cantrell’s 24 points, stayed right with North Hall as the teams racheted up the offense after the half.

And down 60-57 with :49 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Cantrell made three of his final four free throws, including a pair with 16 seconds remaining, to send the game into overtime tied at 60.

The Red Elephants senior again evened the score at 70-70 on a layup with six seconds remaining in overtime, but a foul by Gainesville on North Hall’s resulting inbound play gave Smith an opportunity to put the Trojans ahead for the final time at the free throw line.

Avery Cagle added 13 points for North Hall and Adam Kelly finished with 12.

Luke Moore finished with 11 points for Gainesville and Deshaun Watson, one of three starters just getting back into the lineup a week after winning a football state title, finished with 11. Chase England scored eight and senior Caleb Hayman grabbed 10 rebounds for the Red Elephants.

North Hall last won Lanierland in 2010, while Gainesville defeated East Hall in last year’s title game.

JOHNSON BOYS 76, WEST HALL 62: The Knights started the second half on an 8-0 run to break open a 30-30 game at the half Friday at North Hall, clinching a spot in the Lanierland tournament championship game for the first time since 2008.

“The kids are going to be in a new environment,” Johnson coach Jeff Steele said. “And that’s good either way it goes.”

Johnson (10-1) will play North Hall at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at North Hall in the championship game. West Hall will play Gainesville at 4:30 p.m. at North Hall for third place.

The Knights finished with four players in double figures, led by Ty Cockfield (19 points), Montrell McKenzie (18), and Roderick English and Carter Cagle with 14 apiece.

McKenzie also led the team with 13 rebounds.

Steele said the team came out flat early on, and on top of that the West Hall zone defense was effective in the first half. So, after halftime he made changes specifically designed to get the Spartans (6-4) out of their zone defense.

“We got ugly with them in (the paint),” Steele said. “The goal was to get them out of the zone early in the third quarter, and we did that.”

After Johnson’s 8-0 run to start the third quarter, including three baskets low in the paint, West Hall took a timeout and changed up the defense to counter the new look, but giving the Knights even more room to work down low. Knights forward James Hodges took advantage, scoring all nine of his points — all on shots close to the basket — in the second half.

Johnson finished the game without a single 3-pointer, while West Hall finished with nine from beyond the arc, including seven alone by Grayson Tyler, who led all scorers with 23 points and kept the Spartans from falling too far out of contention for much of the second half.

Tyswon Cantrell added 17 points for West Hall and Hunter Atkinson scored 16.

GAINESVILLE GIRLS 50, LAKEVIEW ACADEMY 26: Kayla Kelly led Gainesville with 14 points, 11 in the first half, as the Lady Red Elephants turned a seven-point game at the half into a rout Friday in a Lanierland tournament consolation game at North Hall High.

Gainesville (3-4) will play West Hall at noon Saturday at North Hall in the fifth place game, while Lakeview Academy (4-6) will face Johnson at 9 a.m. in the seventh place game at North Hall.

Shikiya Brown added 10 points for the Lady Red Elephants and Anna Walker finished with seven.

Taylor Handte led Lakeview with nine points, all in the first half.

WEST HALL GIRLS 60, JOHNSON 27: Kaelyn Gattis scored a team-high 10 points as one of 12 players to score for the Lady Spartans, who cruised to a win Friday against Oakwood rivals Johnson in a Lanierland tournament consolation game at North Hall.

West Hall (6-4) will play Gainesville at noon Saturday at North Hall in the fifth place game, while Johnson (0-11) faces Lakeview Academy at 9 a.m. in the seventh place game at North Hall.

Johnson’s Sarah Williams led all scorers with 13 points, but the Lady Spartans won with balance and trips to the free throw line, converting 17 of 32 attempts.

Kaycee Teffs and Maia Booker each added eight points for West Hall, which was up 28-13 at the half.

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