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North Hall girls rally late, fall to Jefferson 68-61 in OT
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North Hall's Sadie Cleveland (10) dribbles the ball downcourt while Jefferson's Lauren Wagner (3) and Akera Benton (10) chase during Tuesday's game in Gainesville. - photo by Erin O. Smith

North Hall got the defense it’s been preaching at practice for the last week. It just wasn’t enough, as a late rally to force overtime came up short in a 68-61 loss to Jefferson on Tuesday night in Gainesville.

Jefferson squandered a seven-pount lead in the final minute of regulation, only going 2 of 6 in their final three trips to the free throw line, but outscored the Lady Trojans 13-6 in OT.

The Dragons (8-3) watched the Trojans get clutch 3’s from Sadie Cleveland and Caroline Hearn during a 7-1 run in 49 seconds, the second a crowd erupting trey from Hearn with 2 ticks on the clock.

The Trojans (6-6) made seven of their nine 3-pointers in the second half, a stat that took Jefferson, even coach Jason Gibson by surprise.

“They had a great game tonight,” Gibson said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen them shoot it that well.”

The Trojans took a four-point lead in the first minute of overtime before the Dragons finally found the inside shooting they were looking for from leading scorer Jazmin Allen. She scored nine in extra time — seven from the charity stripe — to put the Dragons ahead for good.

Allen finished with 21 points. Lauren Wagner had 13 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, behind Allen.

“At halftime, we really stressed spacing them out a bit more. I thought we did a good job of that — didn’t do anything really complicated, we just tried to spread them out,” Gibson said. We had a huge size advantage inside, but we didn’t do it all in the first half. In the second half, we did a good job of getting it inside, forcing them to have to play us.”

North Hall took early advantage from the perimeter with back-to-back 3-pointers by Tatum McQuillen and Caroline Hearn within the first three minutes of the opening period, and from there began to clamp down on defense. The Lady Trojans led 9-6 after the first, and generated five steals to start the second, including four from Hearn.

“We’ve just been preaching that all week, because our defensive effort hasn’t been the way I like it,” North Hall coach Kristi House said. “So I’m really proud of our kids for stepping up.”

Jefferson couldn’t find many openings in North Hall’s tight 1-3-1 defensive set in the first half, only making 5-of-23 attempts from the field and trailed 15-12 at the half.

“Tonight (House) went back to the matchup zone, and I think they do a really good job in,” Gibson said. “We struggled early from the perimeter, and then we didn’t do a great job of getting steals and posting up inside. I thought our eyes were across the court too much in the first half, especially in the first quarter.

NORTH HALL BOYS 52, JEFFERSON BOYS 45: Taylor Hanson was really feeling it from beyond the arc in the Trojans’ non-region win on Tuesday night.

Hanson knocked down a team-high five 3-pointers to account for all 15 of his points to lead the Trojans. Evan Easton was another to score in the double digits with 11 points, eight in the first half.

Tryston Norman led Jefferson with 12 points, followed by Jasper Gibson with 10.

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