OAKWOOD - This week certainly proved to be a welcomed change of pace for the West Hall High boys.
On the heels of a 34-point win against Pickens on Tuesday, the Spartans (9-7, 3-1 Region 7B-AAA) pulled off a 71-36 win against West Forsyth on Friday night.
Most importantly, West Hall now has three straight subregion wins starting with a 1-point win against Gainesville last Friday and now sits in second place in the subregion behind Flowery Branch. These wins do wonders for erasing any memories of three straight non-subregion loses to start the new year.
“We’re playing well as a team right now,” West Hall’s Tray Malone said. “That’s big to win three in a row.”
West Hall was clearly physically superior to the first-year Wolverines on Friday night.
The Spartans made a habit early of blocking shots on defense, creating turnovers and coming away with loose balls that translated into easy baskets. The Spartans also shot the ball consistently from the field going 29-for-48 and 7-for-9 on free throws.
Willie Morales, a junior, led the Spartans with 13 points and Derek Weatherly added 12.
Tray Malone and Terrell Penland each scored eight for West Hall, and Ricky Vital and Shunquez Stephens both scored seven.
West Hall seemingly could do no wrong with the ball in its hands.
The Spartans were accurate from beyond the arc with three 3-pointers in the opening quarter capped by a dunk from Marquise Stephens to put the finishing touch on a 29-10 first quarter.
Morales hit a pair of 3-pointers and Vital added the other first period 3-point basket.
“That’s really good balance,” Spartans coach Warren Sellers said. “Offensively we’re a work in progress, but I like the fact that we’re making the effort to make the extra pass and find the open shot.”
The Spartans kept the offensive intensity alive in the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers from Shunquez Stephens and Malone. And on the final play of the third quarter the Spartans rolled all the elements of their night into one with a steal by Malone and rebound and a lay-up as the buzzer sounded by Shunquez Stephens.
Lance Baker led West Forsyth with 12 points.
Now with one difficult week in the books for the Spartans, they turn their attention to next week with huge subregion games against Johnson, Gainesville and Flowery Branch.
West Hall would have to win next Friday against the Falcons (15-2, 4-0) to have any realistic chance at the No. 1 spot going into the Region 7-AAA tournament.
“All the games are big from now on,” Sellers added.
West Hall visits Jackson County at 5:30 p.m. tonight.
West Forsyth girls 42, West Hall 39
The Lady Spartans are on a roller coaster of highs and lows at an early stage of the subregion schedule.
In the same week West Hall knocked off Pickens in overtime, the Lady Spartans returned to the court with their first home loss of the season Friday night in Oakwood.
West Hall (8-8, 2-2 Region 7B-AAA) was hampered by its own mistakes all night with 23 turnovers and only 12 offensive rebounds.
The Lady Spartans also missed too many shots from the field. They only hit 15-of-42 shots and managed to shoot only 60-percent at the free-throw line.
“It’s probably the worst we’ve played all season,” West Hall coach Lynn Jarrett said. “We just seemed to panic all night.
“We kept turning the ball over, couldn’t seem to catch the ball and couldn’t keep West Forsyth off the boards.”
West Hall still had a chance to win in the final minute, but on an inbound pass one of West Hall’s players accidentally kicked the ball out of bounds turning the ball back over to the Wolverines.
West Forsyth stayed strong at the free-throw line down the stretch hitting 10-of-13.
Jayla Moon led West Hall with 18 points and eight rebounds. Bailey Soucie scored eight for the Lady Spartans.
Kelsey Baker led West Forsyth with 12 and Kelsey Turchi scored 10.
“I felt like we were just playing not to lose tonight,” Jarrett added.
West Hall visits Jackson County at 4 p.m. today.