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This week: It's all about Lanierland basketball
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Today’s games
at Chestatee High

Game 1: No. 4 Jefferson girls vs. No. 5 Chestatee, 8 a.m.

Game 2: No. 4 Flowery Branch boys vs. No. 5 Johnson, 10:30 a.m.

Game 3: No. 3 East Hall girls vs. No. 6 Johnson, noon

Game 4: No. 3 West Hall boys vs. No. 6 Gainesville, 1:30 p.m.

Game 5: No. 2 Gainesville girls vs. No. 7 Flowery Branch, 3:30 p.m.

Game 6: No. 2 East Hall boys vs. No. 7 Chestatee, 5 p.m.

Game 7: No. 1 North Hall girls vs. No. 8 West Hall, 6:30 p.m.

Game 8: No. 1 North Hall boys vs. No. 8 Lakeview Academy, 8 p.m.

Everyone knows Christmas is this week, but that doesn’t mean gifts won’t be delivered prior to Saturday.

The 51st Lanierland basketball tournament starts today, and with students out of school and most people starting their vacations, the gyms at Chestatee High (the site of the first two days of action) and West Hall (the site of the final two days) should be jam packed with fans ready to see the best high school basketball Hall County has to offer.

“There’s a lot of history and this tournament brings a lot of excitement,” said North Hall coach Benjie Wood, whose top-seeded Trojans (4-1) cap off Day 1 with an 8 p.m. game against Lakeview Academy (3-3). “Everyone I talk to, I tell them they have to come out here and check out Lanierland.”

While Wood’s Trojans enter the tournament as the top seed and defending champions, the road to another title won’t be easy. Four of the eight boys teams — North Hall, Gainesville, West Hall and East Hall — are ranked in the top 10, and that list doesn’t include Johnson, which is off to a 6-1 start.

The Knights, who are the No. 5 seed, open the tournament against fourth-seeded Flowery Branch (2-3) at 10:30 a.m. today. Other boys games on the schedule are: sixth-seeded Gainesville (6-2) against third-seeded West Hall (6-2) at 1:30 p.m. and No. 2 seed East Hall (3-2) against No. 7 seed Chestatee (1-5) at 5 p.m.

The winner of the Red Elephants-Spartans game clearly has the toughest road to a championship, as they’ll likely have to play East Hall in Round 2, and barring an upset, North Hall in the finals.

The girls bracket is also stacked with talented teams poised to take home the coveted gold ball. Third-ranked Chestatee (6-0) looks to be the favorite, but the Lady War Eagles will be tested in Round 1 when they open the tournament at 9 a.m. against Jefferson (5-3).

“That’s gonna be tough, but it’s good that we’re at home,” Chestatee coach Web Daniel said. “We’re used to practicing early, so that shouldn’t bother us. We’ll probably have to give them some coffee or something to help wake them up though.”

If Chestatee advances past Jefferson, it will likely face top-seeded North Hall (2-3), who opens the tournament against West Hall at 6:30 tonight. Get by the Lady Trojans, and Chestatee will be in the finals against either No. 3 seed East Hall (2-2), which opens Lanierland against Johnson at noon, or second-seeded Gainesville (4-4), which opens against Flowery Branch (1-5) at 3:30 p.m.

“I don’t think there’s pressure on us to win,” Daniel said, “it’s something we came in to the season wanting to do. We don’t need to win it, but we want to win it.”

The first day of Lanierland consists of eight games starting at 9 a.m. at Chestatee High. Day 2 will also be at Chestatee and will feature four consolation games starting at noon and the two girls semifinal contests starting at 6 p.m.

The tournament moves to West Hall for the final two days which feature four more consolation games starting at noon and the boys semifinals starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The championship will be determined Thursday, with the girls third-place game kicking things off at 3 p.m. That game will be followed by the boys’ third-place game, which preceded the girls championship game at 6 p.m. and the boys final at 7:30 p.m.

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