With a long flight to Alaska today, the East Hall boys basketball team and coach Joe Dix can rest easy knowing they won’t have a loss to dwell on in the air.
Led by six Hayden Chapman 3-pointers, the Vikings topped Dawson County 66-48 on Tuesday in Gainesville. It was the team’s third straight win since a loss to Gainesville in the Lanierland tournament championship game and their second straight in the subregion.
“I talked to them the last few days about focusing,” Dix said. “Because it’s not something we can just all of the sudden decide we’re going to do.
“We have to prepare, but at the same time stay focused on the task at hand, which was trying to win this subregion game tonight.”
Chapman got the team going early, hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter and another early in the second to help the team jump out to a 25-17 lead.
Then, with 3:15 left in the half, East Hall (7-4, 2-0 8A-AA) took control. It knocked down a shot to keep its lead at eight points and immediately put full-court pressure on the Tigers.
When Dawson County (13-4, 1-1 8A-AA) beat the press and raced down the court for what appeared to be an easy lay in, Jamond Witt trailed the shooter and blocked the shot off the backboard.
Witt scored two at the other end and immediately swatted another shot away on defense.
The Vikings added an exclamation point to their first-half finish, sending an alley-oop pass on an inbounds play to Joe Berry for the dunk.
Berry, who only scored six points on the offensive end of the floor, was a force on defense. He recorded seven blocks on the game to pace the team’s strong effort. As a team, East Hall finished with 14 blocks and outrebounded Dawson County, 41-37.
A number of the Tigers’ rebounds came on the offensive end, but they were unable to capitalize on the second chances.
“Defensively, I thought that was as good as we’ve been in the half court,” Dix said. “We did a good job on their best player, holding him to six points. That was a big win for us.”
By the end of the first half, East Hall’s six-point lead had been extended to 13.
The Vikings picked up out of the locker room in the second half where they left off in the first. Helped by a couple of 3-pointers, including another one by Chapman, they erupted for a 14-2 run in the first three minutes of the quarter to extend their lead to 50-25. He added another 3-pointer early in the fourth to keep the East Hall lead at 21 points.
Chapman led the team with 19 points on the night.
Choosing his words carefully, Dix spoke on the sharpshooter’s game.
“He was certainly shooting the ball well tonight,” Dix said.
J.C. Hampton notched a quiet, but effective 17 points and five rebounds in the game. Brian Edwards was the third-leading scorer with 11.
Dawson County was led by Lucas Pain and Cameron Chester, who each totaled eight points in the game.
East Hall will play next against Kodiak High (Alaska) at 7:15 p.m. Alaska standard time on Thursday at West High in Anchorage, Alaska.
Dix said the team is looking forward to this rare opportunity.
“It’s the trip of a lifetime,” he said. “They’re excited; 11 are flying for the first time. Only one of the coaches has been to Alaska, so it’s going to be new to all of us.”
Dawson County will play a little closer to home, hosting Fannin County at 8:30 p.m. on Friday in Dawsonville.
EAST HALL GIRLS 60, DAWSON COUNTY 43: In a game that was close until the final minutes, the Lady Vikings (12-1, 2-0 8A-AA) were able to knock down late free throws to pull away and seal a win over Dawson County on Tuesday at home.
The Lady Tigers managed just a single point in the first quarter, falling behind 15-1, but were able to battle back in the game. Despite trailing 40-27 going into the fourth, the team cut the East Hall lead to three points, 42-39, with just 3:12 remaining in the game.
When Morgan Jackson knocked down a 2-point jumper to push the lead back to two possessions, however, Dawson County was unable to close the gap anymore.
Jackson led the East Hall effort with 23 points, followed by Jasmine Jenkins’ 16. The Lady Tigers were paced by Morgan Huber (12 points) and Sheyenne Seabolt (eight).
The Lady Vikings play against Southwest Atlanta Christian in the Battle of the Southeast at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at Wesleyan High. Dawson County (9-8) will host Fannin County at 7 p.m. on Friday in Dawsonville.