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Lanierland: Trojans take championship with back-to-basics basketball
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East Hall’s Charles Perry, center, is called for the foul as he tries to go between two North Hall defenders during the first half of Friday night’s Lanierland Tournament boys championship game at the Flowery Branch gymnasium.
FLOWERY BRANCH — The boys Lanierland championship came down to defensive pressure that resulted in untimely turnovers and free throws.

Both are aspects of the game of basketball that require the very thing North Hall coach Benjie Wood preaches to his team before the start of every practice: hard work.

The Trojans hit 68 percent from the free throw line — 11 of 16 — and held East Hall to just seven fourth quarter points while causing five turnovers in the last two minutes of the game en route to a 67-57 win and a Lanierland title Friday night at Flowery Branch High.

The championship is Wood’s first since taking over for North Hall four years ago.

“I’m happy for our young men,” Wood said. “They’ve worked their tails off and have been diligent.

“This group of seniors...we’ve been through this together.”

After the Vikings took a quick lead with a 3-pointer by Joshua Hampton, North Hall responded with a 9-0 run sparked by Trevor Ross’ four points and capped by a Chris Barnes 3-pointer.

Barnes was the catalyst for North Hall in the first half as the team held onto a slim lead due in large part to his 18 points on six-straight 3-pointers.

“Boy, he was something, wasn’t he?” Wood said. “I’ve been riding him hard, but he’s the type of player that responds to that.

“He isn’t scared of the big time and proved that tonight.”

Barnes finished as the team’s second-leading scorer with 20 points. Trevor Ross had a game-high 21 points for the Trojans, 11 in the second half, and was 7 of 8 from the free throw line in the third and fourth quarters.

Down by six at the half, East Hall came out firing in the third quarter as it went on an 8-0 run to pull within four points with four minutes and 22 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Vikings were within three points a minute later thanks to Charles Perry 3-pointer.

Perry finished as the team’s leading scorer with 16 points and tied the game at 44-44 with 1:49 remaining in the third quarter on a steal and layup.

Eight seconds later, after Nolan Carter hit back-to-back jumpers with a North Hall turnover in the middle, the Vikings had their second lead of the game.

Carter finished with 14 points for the Vikings.

North Hall tied it at 48 with 18 seconds to go in the third quarter on four straight free throws by Ross.

But the Vikings again responded when Perry hit a layup as the quarter buzzer sounded to give his team a 50-48 lead, the Vikings’ last of the game.

“I told the guys before the fourth quarter what I tell them everyday before practice starts, and that’s to go to work,” Wood said.

That’s what the Trojans did, regaining the lead with six minutes left in the game on a layup by Robby Hill and causing a turnover on East Hall’s ensuing possession.

Ross followed up the turnover with a layup giving the Trojans a 56-53 lead they would not relinquish.

Following the turnover that resulted in Ross’ layup, the Vikings turned it over on their next four possessions.

“It’s nice to see the work these boys have put it pay off for them,” Wood said. “I’m so proud of them and their efforts tonight.”
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