The West Hall girls basketball team can check one goal off its list this season.
Junior guard Anna McKendree scored 23 points to help the No. 3 Lady Spartans finish undefeated in Region 7-AAAA play Friday night with a 62-45 home win against White County. As the No. 1 seed in next week’s region tournament at Chestatee, West Hall (20-5, 8-0 region) receives a first-round bye and an automatic berth in the state playoffs.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” McKendree said. “We’ve put in a lot of hard work to accomplish this. We’ve been taking care of things on and off the court. We’ve worked so hard as a team, so it’s nice to see it pay off.”
The Lady Spartans are in favorable position to repeat as region champions, getting a whole week off before the semifinal round next Friday. But West Hall still has plenty to play for — winning the region tournament could guarantee homecourt advantage in the playoffs until the Final four.
“I’m proud of the girls,” Lady Spartans coach Bryan Richerson said. “They finished up 8-0, and that’s a big accomplishment. That was one of our goals for this year, finishing 8-0 in the region. But it’s 0-0 now. It’s about to start over.”
But the final act of West Hall’s regular season wasn’t so glamorous.
The Lady Spartans led by double digits for most of the night but were mired in a slow-paced, sloppy contest. The two teams combined for 55 turnovers and 50 fouls, with each squad producing nearly even amounts in each category.
“It was a sloppy game,” McKendree said. “They pressed us a lot. We know how to adapt to that, but we didn’t play well when we were out of control.”
It was that way from the opening tip. The Lady Warriors (6-16, 1-6) scored just six points in the first quarter and connected on as many baskets before halftime. West Hall didn’t fare much better, making only seven shots from the field to take a 29-16 lead into the break.
“We got into foul trouble, and that kind of got us out of sync a little bit,” Richerson said.
The Lady Spartans’ lead ballooned to 47-22 in the second half when McKendree drained a 3-pointer and senior guard Avery Prather turned a steal into a layup. West Hall continued to pile it on, eventually claiming a 57-30 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
But seniors Macy Passmore (10 points) and Megan English (eight points) fouled out shortly afterward, and White County chipped away at the lead against the Lady Spartans’ reserves.
McKendree added five rebounds, five assists and two steals to her big scoring night. Naomi Crumley (10 points) was the only player to score in double digits for the Lady Indians, who will be the bottom seed in the region tournament.
This Senior Night was much different than last year’s for the Lady Spartans. Their high-pressure win against Dawson County to close last season earned them the No. 3 seed in the region tournament and sparked their run to the championship.
After finishing undefeated in region play this season, the Lady Spartans will have a much easier path back to that milestone.
“A big goal of ours is to win a region championship,” Richerson said. “That’s something special.”
WHITE COUNTY 63 BOYS, WEST HALL 52: The Warriors (16-9, 5-3 Region 7-AAAA) used an 18-0 extended run between the second and third quarters to end their season with a road win.
White County sophomore Austin Harris led all scorers with 21 points off the bench, while senior John Ward notched a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Senior forward Xzavier Reid and sophomore guard Noah Edmondson paced the Spartans (7-16, 2-6 region) with 17 points apiece. West Hall will be in the fourth spot in next week’s region tournament, while the Warriors hold the No. 3 seed.