Gainesville girls at Chestatee, 4 p.m.
Gainesville boys vs. Flowery Branch, 5:30 p.m.
East Hall girls vs. Gilmer, 7 p.m.
North Hall boys vs. West Hall, 8:30 p.m.
All games played at Chestatee High
Only after North Hall’s 65-55 win against East Hall on Thursday could Trojans coach Benjie Wood admit he was more nervous than his players.
He knew playing the Vikings in the second round of the Region 7-AAA tournament was going to be a fight to the bitter end. That certainly turned out to be the case as North Hall (20-6) overcame a 40-32 deficit in a physical battle to assure itself a spot in the tournament semifinals tonight against West Hall (22-5), as well as a berth in the Class AAA state playoffs. The Spartans defeated West Forsyth, 56-43, earlier in the day.
"I knew East Hall wasn’t going to come out and lay down for us, we just managed to weather the storm," Wood said. "This win is a reward for all their hard work this season."
With the win, North Hall completed a three-game sweep against the Vikings this season, and handed East Hall (12-14) its first loss in a state qualifying game in school history.
East Hall coach Joe Dix said the storyline against North Hall was the same in all three meetings this year. The Vikings led at halftime, hit a spell where they couldn’t shoot in the second half and as a result ended up on the losing end.
"That’s been our problem we played well, then we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket," Dix said. "If we’re going to be a good team again we have to have guys that can put the ball in the basket."
North Hall secured its win at home thanks to a 20-3 scoring run that started late in the third quarter. Ethan Satterfield’s lay up with 2:39 left to play in the third period gave the Trojans the lead at 41-40, which they didn’t relinquish.
The Trojans continued to outplay East Hall during their run with a rebounding edge that created multiple shots on each possession. Chase Syfan put a wrap on North Hall’s scoring spurt with a 3-point play with 2:50 left in the game, extending its lead to 52-43.
"Everything feeds off of our defense," Wood said. "Our team motto all season has been to play relentless."
Syfan scored a game-high 17 for the Trojans and Satterfield added 15.
After North Hall’s run, the Vikings managed to draw within five thanks to a Kymmon Woods jump shot off of a rebound.
But the Trojans were able to put the game away at the free throw line.
"This game was like a heavyweight battle, it’s a shame either team had to lose," Wood added.
Senior Dustin Duckworth led East Hall with 13 points and Charles Perry added 10.
The Vikings’ season is now complete.
West Hall boys 56, West Forsyth 43
The Spartans are marking off their season goals one by one. West Hall (22-5) crossed off the biggest one of all with its win in the second round of the Region 7-AAA tournament Thursday night at North Hall.
The Spartans secured a berth in the Class AAA state playoffs for the first time since 2006 with their win against the Wolverines (11-16).
"This has been our goal from day one," West Hall coach Warren Sellers said. "Winning the Thanksgiving tournament was nice, Lanierland was great but getting back in the playoffs is what we’ve wanted all season."
With the win, the Spartans face North Hall in the tournament semifinals at 8:30 p.m. tonight at Chestatee. The winner earns a top two seed for the playoffs and a home playoff game.
"Friday’s game is going to be huge," added Sellers.
Spartans senior Rodney Gibson deserves credit for snapping his team out of a second half lull. With 3:05 left in the third, he muscled inside for a dunk, giving West Hall a 31-28 lead. From there, the Spartans went on a 12-2 run that ended the third quarter.
Jarquise Young and Kavon Williams each added to the Spartans’ run by each hitting a 3-pointer before the end of the third period.
"We needed something positive at that point," Gibson said. "I had a feeling that was going to get us going."
"Rodney’s dunk was a big play and just really gave us some good momentum," Sellers added. "I feel like we’re starting to play a little smarter as a team."
Gibson led West Hall with a game-high 16 points. Sophomore Shunquez Stephens finished with 13 while Young and Williams each scored 10 for West Hall.
Stephens helped preserve West Hall’s victory in the fourth quarter with solid play inside and on the perimeter. He hit four consecutive free throws midway through the fourth quarter giving the Spartans their biggest lead of the game at 50-35. He also used his size advantage to power inside for a pair of layups to begin the fourth quarter.
"Shunquez is really versatile," Sellers said. "He’s like having more than one player out there since he can play inside and out."
Lance Baker led West Forsyth with 12 points and John Benedict added 11. Kris Drees was also in double-figures with 10 for the Wolverines.
West Forsyth’s season is now complete.