The North Hall basketball players found themselves in an unfamiliar position early in the fourth quarter Tuesday night.
Down 16 points, on the road.
In the end, it didn’t matter.
Trojans’ forward Adam Kelly finished a late run with a layup at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, and then scored the go-ahead layup early in the extra period to help lead North Hall to an 88-83 win at East Hall.
“I don’t think we’ve been down that much in a game this season, even on the road,” the 6-foot-4 Kelly said after the game. “We showed the coaches that we’re mentally tough.”
Kelly led all scorers with 31 points as North Hall, which last led at 9-7 in the opening quarter until Kelly sparked a 9-0 Trojans run to open the overtime period. Kelly had scored 33 points against East Hall in the first meeting of the season, a 72-69 overtime win, and said that East Hall aggressively taking away the 3-point shot on defense gave him the space to maneuver down low and take advantage of one-on-one situations.
Still, even with Kelly and North Hall having recent success against the Vikings, it didn’t make the come-from-behind win any less sweet.
“We’ve kind of had their number the last few seasons,” Kelly said. “But it still feels great.”
The win keeps North Hall (17-2, 8-1) securely in second place in the Region 7-AAA standings behind Buford, while East Hall (7-11, 4-5) remains stuck near the middle of the eight-team region with the tough loss.
It didn’t look like a Vikings loss with 6:55 remaining in the fourth quarter, when Trojans coach Benjie Wood called timeout after East Hall senior Daniel McCravy’s third consecutive layup to open the fourth quarter extended the home team’s lead to 65-49.
“I’m speechless,” Wood said. “I told them (in the timeout) it was all about heart.”
Avery Cagle buried a 3-pointer on North Hall’s next possession to end the Vikings’ run and start an 11-0 Trojans burst to get within five points with 4:29 left and turn a potential blowout into a tense, possession-by-possession battle the rest of the way.
“I’m really proud of Avery Cagle,” Wood said. “He’s been struggling, but he got that run started for us.”
From there, the Trojans stayed in the game against a hot-shooting East Hall team (11 made 3-pointers) by making nearly every free throw they could, including 18 of 21 between the fourth quarter and overtime, and 31 of 40 for the game.
With under 50 seconds remaining in overtime and East Hall down 80-72, North Hall held on by finishing 8 of 8 from the line — including four points by Cagle — to hold off an East Hall team that sank four 3-pointers in under a minute.
Cagle finished with 16 points for North Hall, Ebo Smith added 19 points and Griffin Olson chipped in 15. The four players scored all but seven of the Trojans’ points.
Brian Edwards led East Hall with 19 points, Hayden Chapman finished with 16, including two treys to end the game. Antonio Maddox hit five 3-pointers for 15 points, freshman Jacquen Hopkins added 12 and McCravy tallied 10.
East Hall finished 10 of 18 from the free throw line, including just 5 of 11 in the final quarter and overtime combined.
North Hall actually came within one at the half after being down seven after one, but fell behind 51-39 midway through the third after an Edwards 3-pointer.
The Trojans scored seven straight to close within five, and then the two teams traded shots until East Hall’s final big run.
Kelly bookended another run for North Hall late in the fourth to get within one with 2:10 remaining after being down 68-60 with 3:58 left.
He made 1 of 2 free throws with 29 seconds left to get North Hall back within one at 69-68, and East Hall’s Jordan Jackson went 1 of 2 with seven seconds left to put East Hall ahead 70-68.
Smith drove to the basket on the Trojans’ final play but his contested layup banged off the rim, Kelly recovered and put it back up and in the net just as the buzzer sounded to send the game to overtime.
North Hall plays White County at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Cleveland following the girls game. East Hall plays Dawson County at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Dawsonville following the girls game.
NORTH HALL GIRLS 58, EAST HALL 41: Ansley Chester had a career-high 18 points and sank four 3-pointers for the Lady Trojans, who went over .500 in Region 7-AAA with the win.
Katie Sayres added 14 points for North Hall (12-7, 5-4), including five consecutive points midway through the second quarter to jump-start a 17-0 run to put the Trojans ahead 28-12 early in the third.
The run included a 3-pointer by Chester just before the halftime buzzer, and another on the first possession of the second half.
“She’s been working really hard on her game,” North Hall coach Kristi House said. “I was happy to see her have a night like this.”
Taylor Phillips added 13 points for the Lady Trojans, who won despite turning the ball over 20 times. East Hall finished with 13 turnovers, nine in the second half.
Tasia Bailey and A.J. Hendrix each finished with 11 points for East Hall (5-12, 2-7).
Allie Staub added four points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Trojans, who outrebounded the Lady Vikings 37-21.