The only home game for North Hall boys in this 57th installment of Lanierland proved a little close for coach Tyler Sanders’ comfort. As for the fans, they got the first nail-biter of this three-day extravaganza.
After leading by as much as 14 entering the fourth quarter, the Knights put on a rally late, before North Hall held on for a 49-46 win at North Hall.
Johnson outscored North Hall 13-6 in the final period, putting a major dent in a lead that otherwise held steady for the majority of the contest. Johnson’s Kylan Curry hauled in a rebound, then bounced it outside to Will Richter (8 points), who drained the go-ahead trey at the 2:35 mark. From there, both teams traded four lead changes before North Hall senior Jake Meeler banked a layup and ignited the North Hall faithful with 15 seconds left.
And with 1.5 seconds left, fellow senior and leading scorer Evan Easton iced the game with a pair of free throws, and Richter’s final heave from near midcourt bounced right off the backboard as the final buzzer sounded.
Sanders praised his seniors for handling their business during such a crucial moment. Despite only returning two true senior starters from last season, this game gave Sanders the indication those other three seniors are finally stepping into that leadership role.
Easton finished with 23 points, while senior Alden Lewallen added 14 for North Hall.
“I told the guys, it’s very special. You know, everybody in that locker room, the only game they’ll ever play in Lanierland at home was today,” Sanders said. “And you know, that’s special to do that because last time we hosted Lanierland, we won the championship. So it’s special when you win a game in Lanierland, no matter where it is, when you win it at home it’s special.”
Six-foot-5 senior center Dwayne Wilson scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half for the Knights to lead the comeback charge. His seven fourth-quarter points paced the sixth seed down the home stretch.
North Hall plays the winner of Chestatee and No. 2 seed East Hall on Thursday at Gainesville High School.