TIGER — The East Hall Lady Vikings picked the wrong time to lose the lead.
Trailing by as many as 12 points in the first half, Fannin County stormed back with timely offensive rebounding, a steady defense and the clutch shooting of guard Brooke Thomas to take the lead with 1.5 second left in overtime to beat the Lady Vikings 50-48 on Friday night during the Region 8-AA semifinals at Rabun County High.
The win soured a strong performance from East Hall senior guard Jasmine Jenkins, who led all scorers with 25 points, giving her 1,007 points for her career.
The Lady Vikings (15-10), who already clinched a state playoff berth, play at 4 p.m. today against Union County for a No. 3 seed.
Fannin County (23-1) advances to the region title game.
“We defended them well as far as them running their set stuff,” Vikings coach Joey Rider said. “But the second chance points cost us. We talked about that going in, but they crashed the boards hard and that really cost us. We let them stay around.”
Fannin County had 11 offensive rebounds that kept possessions alive and kept their region title chances alive. East Hall opened the game on an 8-0 run and led 19-7 early in the second quarter. But Fannin County slowly chipped away at the lead, cutting it to 28-25 with 4:09 left in the third quarter.
East Hall pushed the lead to 36-29 after three quarters, but Fannin County refused to go away.
Thomas scored seven points in the fourth quarter, tying the game with a 3-pointer with 2:11 left and again on a layup with 54 seconds that sent the game to overtime tied at 46.
The game appeared headed for a second overtime until Thomas drove to the basket and drilled a short-range jumper to give Fannin County its only lead of the game.
“That’s the most frustrating part is they never led,” Jenkins said. “That shot was over me and I was thinking, ‘What are the chances of that going in?’ Because I’ve been trying to win a region championship since I was a freshman, and that was the most frustrating part was that shot going in, especially when I was guarding the girl.”
Thomas finished with a team-high 15 points and was Fannin County’s only double-digit scorer.
Jenkins hit two 3-pointers and was 11-for-16 from the free throw line.
“We don’t really have a choice but to bounce back, because if we go out (today) and lay an egg, we’ll have to play a one seed,” Jenkins said. “So we need to forget about the loss even though it really hurts and just bring as much momentum as we possibly can for (tonight)’s game.”
As for eclipsing the 1,000 point mark, Jenkins would have preferred a win.
“Right now it really doesn’t mean anything, because we lost,” she said. “It’s a great honor and I worked hard for it, but right now it really doesn’t mean anything.”
EAST HALL BOYS 71, ELBERT COUNTY 48: The Vikings (21-5) opened the game on an 18-4 first quarter run and never looked back. Dre Perry’s 18 points led a steady Vikings attack that saw Josh Hampton score 16 points and Kymon Woods 10 points.
With the win, East Hall advances to the 8-AA title game against host Rabun County, with the game tipping off at 8:30 tonight.
“We got off to a good start, built the lead and we were able to get a good push in the second half,” Vikings coach Joe Dix said. “None of these kids have a region title, so hopefully we’ll come out and win tomorrow.”