The Chestatee girls basketball coach designed a strong game plan to shut down North Hall’s top scorers and the Lady War Eagles executed it almost to perfection, beating the Lady Trojans 36-30 at North Hall Friday night.
Daniel plan focused on North Hall’s Letiecia Davenport and Elizabeth Williams, the two biggest reasons the Lady Trojans went into Friday night’s game with a 10-4 record.
"I was tired of seeing that same story," Daniel said. "I was going to force someone else to beat us, if they were going to beat us."
The Lady War Eagles (7-9, 1-1 Region 7A-AAA) knew the plan well and were ready to pick up the upset and their biggest win of the season.
"Our main goal was to shut down Letiecia," Chestatee freshman Peyton Robertson said. "We wanted to hold their team down."
For the first half, that is exactly what Chestatee did. The Lady War Eagles took a 19-6 lead into halftime.
All six of North Hall’s first-half points came from Davenport and they all came from underneath the basket.
The long arms of Robertson and Erica Lackey made sure that the ball did not spend too much time inside the paint on defense. The Lady War Eagles held North Hall scoreless for a stretch of 9 minutes, 55 seconds in the first and second quarters.
During that stretch, Chestatee scored 14 points to build a 16-4 lead.
"We had a very good first half," Daniel said. "Peyton played outstanding and Lacey shut down the inside."
In the second half, the Lady War Eagles took the game’s tempo and slowed it down to a crawl with long possessions that ate up the clock.
Even North Hall’s coach was impressed with Daniel’s strategy.
"It was a great game plan," coach Debbie Blake said. "That’s what I would do to us."
North Hall (10-5, 1-1) outscored Chestatee 24-23 in the second half but was unable to go on any extended runs because of the Lady War Eagles’ long possessions.
The Lady Trojans never scored more than four unanswered points and continued to fight to get inside, although unsuccessfully.
North Hall resorted to longer shots when there were no lanes, but that didn’t work either. The Lady Trojans only made three of 30 3-point attempts.
"That just isn’t going to cut it," Blake said. "We just didn’t play very well. We were lackadaisical and not intense. We couldn’t find a hot hand."
Davenport finished the game with 10 points. Williams added eight points and Shannon Haire scored seven.
Robertson was Chestatee’s hot hand Friday night. She finished the game with her second straight double-double, 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Lackey scored 11 points and Kasey Smith added seven points.
Despite the glaring difference in records before the game, Daniel and his team knew they had a shot at the upset on the road.
"They were pumped up and ready to play," Daniel said of his team’s attitude before the game. "In this region, everyone’s even. There is no outstanding team."
For Robertson, a freshman, her first trip to North Hall was a memorable one.
"It is always great to win a rivalry game," she said. "I had a feeling we had a shot at it."
Chestatee plays host to White County on Tuesday and North Hall will travel to East Hall the same day.
North Hall boys 51, Chestatee 43
Trojans coach Benjie Wood and his team weren’t able to completely stop Parker Smith, Chestatee’s leading scorer, but they contained him enough for an important rivalry and subregion win.
"You are not going to stop him," Wood said of Smith, who had 30 points. "We just tried to make sure every shot he took was a tough one."
The Trojans made sure to do the same for the rest of the Chestatee squad. No other War Eagles player scored more than six points.
Chestatee held a 19-18 lead at halftime and Smith scored 18 of his team’s 24 second-half points.
"I wouldn’t mind having a Parker Smith in a green jersey," Wood said.
The Trojans took the lead with a 3-pointer by Brannon Nix with 2:26 left in the third quarter and never gave up that lead.
North Hall shot 22 free throws in the final quarter, making half of them, while Chestatee struggled to catch up.
The Trojans looked like a mirror image of the War Eagles, with no big individual scores but lots of smaller ones. Nine Trojans scored at least two points.
"We are a team," Wood said. "We have four or five leading scorers."
Friday night, senior Josh Haymore took the role with 12 points. Nix scored seven points and sophomore Robert Humphrey scored six.
The Trojans travel to East Hall on Tuesday and the War Eagles will play host to White County on the same day.