The last time the North Hall girls entered the Lanierland Tournament with an unbeaten record, they left as champions.
The Lady Trojans are seeking the same scenario this year, and they’re hoping the events of this tournament unfold in the same manner as 2009, the last time they won it all.
Their first-round game of the 54th annual Hall County event surely provided some optimism. North Hall rolled to a 71-46 win over West Hall on Saturday at Flowery Branch High.
The third-seeded Lady Trojans (5-0) painlessly cruised into the championship semifinals, leading for almost the entirety of the contest and ending it with three players in double figures.
“We just wanted to come out playing as well as we could and as hard as we could,” North Hall coach Kristi House said. “We’re fortunate that we came out on top.”
North Hall visits Lakeview Academy in the tournament semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday in Gainesville.
“Everybody is playing well, so we know we’re going have to bring it, even to get to the next round,” House said. “We need to get better between now and then to continue.”
Sydney Cleveland scored 17 points for North Hall, including 10 in a dominant second quarter that gave the Lady Trojans a 35-19 halftime lead.
A 22-point third quarter put North Hall ahead 58-40 entering the final period. The defense took over from there, giving just six points in the fourth to seal the win.
“We just tried to focus on (defense),” House said. “A couple of times we didn’t do a good job, but we challenged our kids to play better on defense today, and I feel like they did.”
Katie Sayres provided 11 points for the Lady Trojans, while Sadie Cleveland scored 10 and Kensi Gillespie added eight.
West Hall was led by Maia Caldwell-Booker’s 12 points. Jensen Hall and MacKenzie Satterfield each scored 10.
The Lady Spartans enter the consolation side of the bracket. West Hall plays Flowery Branch at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Flowery Branch.
GAINESVILLE GIRLS 59, EAST HALL 43: Paisley Lee scored 15 points as the Lady Red Elephants turned a one-point halftime lead into a solid first-round victory in the first game of the tournament.
Gainesville (5-1) led 23-22 through two quarters and even trailed 29-28 three minutes into the third, but closed out the quarter with a 10-2 run and held on the rest of the way.
Lee scored seven of her points consecutively during the run, giving the Lady Red Elephants a 38-31 lead entering the fourth quarter. They outscored East Hall 21-12 from there.
Taylor Hawks and Sophia Jackson each added seven points for Gainesville.
Gainesville faces Chestatee in the tournament semifinals at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Lakeview Academy.
East Hall faces Johnson at 4 p.m. Thursday in the consolation at Flowery Branch High.
LAKEVIEW ACADEMY GIRLS 57, FLOWERY BRANCH 51: Tied 20-20 late in the first half, the Lady Lions (4-2) went on a 13-1 run to carry a double-digit lead into halftime. Marlee Rochester knocked down a 3-pointer for Lakeview Academy, which hosts North Hall in the tournament semifinals on Friday, to give it the biggest lead of the game at 47-29 early in the third quarter.
Hanna Grogan led all scorers for Lakeview Academy with 18 points, while Ainsley Cash finished with 15. Schyler
Miller was also in double figures with 10 points for the Lady Lions.
“Honestly, it’s just fun to see the girls getting better at basketball,” Lakeview coach John Carrick said. “I think the light bulb is starting to come on.”
Kierra Knight scored five of her seven points for Flowery Branch in the fourth quarter to help cut the deficit to 54-49 on a 3-pointer with 2:50 left to play.
Janoah Williams led the Lady Falcons with nine points, while Maddie Hetzel finished with seven. Flowery Branch hosts West Hall in the consolation portion of the bracket at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
CHESTATEE GIRLS 53, JOHNSON 30: Bridgette Kelly scored 14 for the Lady War Eagles, while Savanna Long finished with 10 in the opening round of the Lanierland at Flowery Branch. Kayla Watson added eight points for Chestatee.
For Johnson, Kimmie Brady scored nine points, while Hannah Hester and Sarah Williams each finished with six points.
Chestatee led 41-6 at halftime.
Chestatee faces Gainesville in the tournament semifinals at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Lakeview Academy. Johnson faces East Hall in the consolation bracket at 4 p.m. Thursday at Flowery Branch.