By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Region 8-AA tournament: East Hall girls hold off North Oconee for title
Dawson County boys win first region title since 1969
Placeholder Image

HARTWELL - East Hall didn't have a set play for the situation - down two, eight seconds left, no timeouts remaining.

But Lady Vikings coach Joey Rider said he did know who was going to take the last shot.

Senior Jasmine Jenkins sprinted up the court, around a pick at half court, and rushed into the paint, lofting the ball into the basket for a game-tying layup and drawing a foul.

After a North Oconee timeout, Jenkins sank the free throw, the Lady Titans missed a last gasp shot, and the Lady Vikings had a 52-51 win and a Region 8-AA championship Saturday night at Hart County High.

"Never had I shot a free throw that had a region championship on the line," said Jenkins, who led all scorers with 17 points. "I was just trying to score and tie the game so we could go into overtime."

Jenkins added that she was sure that the Lady Vikings would prevail in overtime. Thanks to her clutch free throw shooting, they never had to find out.

Now East Hall (25-3) will enter the state tournament as the No. 1 seed out of 8-AA and host the No. 4 seed out of 7-AA.

Not exactly an unexpected finish for the North subregion's top team, but one that didn't look too plausible with 3:24 remaining and the Lady Vikings down 46-38 after an 8-0 North Oconee run.

"It was a case of, we had to keep fighting," Jenkins said. "This wasn't a regular season game or even a subregion game, but the region championship.

"We couldn't give up that easily."

On a team loaded with seniors, it was a freshman that put East Hall in position to be able to win.

Guard Chelsea Dale (11 points) hit her third 3-pointer of the game with less than two minutes left to bring the Lady Vikings back within two at 48-46.

"Chelsea's shot it like that for us all year," Rider said. "She's a freshman, but she's fearless."

North Oconee, which was led by Jinny Channel (12 points) and Emily Dobberstein, pushed the lead back up to four with another two free throws, making the South subregion's No. 1 team 21 of 24 from the free throw line.

The Lady Titans would have six more chances at the line, but converted just one more free throw.

Audrianna Lindsey (seven points) hit 1 of 2 free throws to get back within three points, and then Jenkins hit a jumper in the lane to get within one at 50-49.

Senior Morgan Jackson (11 points) fouled out to stop the clock with eight seconds left. North Oconee made one of two free throws to get the lead back up to two, and then Rider's plan went into action.

"If it was one or two points (down), we were going to the rock," Rider said. "It wasn't as much a set play as we knew who was going to take it to the rock."

DAWSON COUNTY 51, JEFFERSON BOYS 43: The Tigers won their first region tournament since 1969 on Saturday at Hart County High in the Region 8-AA final.

The Tigers (23-6) had to win three games just to reach the finals, including a win over South No. 2 Elbert County, which missed out on the top seed due to a tiebreaker, and a win over North No. 1 East Hall in the semifinals.
"It was an unbelievable effort," said Dawson County coach Thad Burgess. "We just believed we were going to win."

Dawson County will host the No. 4 seed from Region 7-AA at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in the first round of the state tournament.

Tyler Dominy led the Tigers with 19 points and added three key blocks late in the fourth as Dawson County rallied and then held on for the win.

Austin Thompson led Jefferson with 22 points.

EAST HALL BOYS 86, RABUN COUNTY 72: Vikings senior guard J.C. Hampton hit a 3-pointer from near halfcourt at the halftime buzzer - three of his team-high 32 points and one of five 3-pointers to put the Vikings ahead by 20 at the break en route to the win in the Region 8-AA consolation final Saturday at Hart County High.

"If we had that kind of energy yesterday that we had in the first half, we might be playing for a region championship," said East Hall coach Joe Dix. "But I thought we bounced back well."

East Hall (21-7) will play the loser of the Region 7-AA championship game between Coosa and Dade County in the first round of the state tournament on Saturday.

Brian Edwards added 16 points for the Vikings, Chris Orr scored 15 along with eight rebounds, and Taylor Holtzclaw was 4 of 5 from the 3-point line on the way to 14 points.

The Vikings won despite playing large chunks of the second half without Hampton, who had four fouls halfway through the third, and they won despite shooting 20 of 43 at the free throw line, which enabled the Wildcats to hang around and get within six points in the fourth.

"That's not a great stat, that'll give you a loss in the state tournament," Dix said.

The Wildcats finished 21 of 33 from the free throw line. Rabun County, which was led by Dillon Bleckley (31 points) and Tanner Plemmons (19 points), will play the Region 7-AA champion in the first round.

After being upset in the semifinals on Friday against North No. 3 Dawson County, the Vikings charged out of the gate, using a 13-0 run in the first quarter to take a double-digit lead.

RABUN COUNTY GIRLS 59, UNION COUNTY 41: The Lady Wildcats broke open a five-point lead in the fourth quarter, hitting 11 of 12 free throws down the stretch for the win, despite 14 points from Lady Panthers' point guard Callie Payne and 13 points from Rebecka Merritt.

Savannah Reeves led all scorers with 18 points for Rabun County and Sally Woerner and Robin Wright added 12 points each.

North No. 3 Union County, and North No. 2 Rabun County will await the results of the Region 7-AA championship game between Model and Calhoun to determine the opponent in the first round of state.

The Lady Panthers will play the winner of the championship game.

Rabun County built a 27-13 advantage midway through the second quarter, but Union County closed the half with an 8-0 run, including a pair of 3-pointers in consecutive possessions by Payne, to get within six at 27-21.

The teams traded baskets in the third quarter, before Rabun County pulled away in the fourth.

Friends to Follow social media