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West Hall girls top Fannin County, book spot in state tournament for first time since 2005-06
Lady Spartans led by Anna McKendree (22 points) who scored 17 of her team's opening 19 points
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Region 7-AAA

at Lumpkin County High

West Hall girls vs  East Hall, 4 p.m.

West Hall boys vs East Hall, 5:30 p.m.

Dawson County girls vs Banks County, 7 p.m.

Banks County boys vs. Lumpkin County, 8:30 p.m.

Anna McKendree’s goal was simple during West Hall’s 7-AAA quarterfinal game Thursday night against Fannin County: Give her senior teammates another chance to suit up.

The sophomore single-handedly scored 17 of her team’s opening 19 points en route to a 50-33 victory in Oakwood that ensures the Lady Spartans will play in the state playoffs for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

No. 3 seed West Hall (17-8) will play No. 2 seed East Hall, who progressed to the semifinal by thrashing Lumpkin County in the nightcap of Thursday’s quarterfinal matchups at West Hall.

The 7-AAA girls semifinal between East Hall and West Hall will take place 4 p.m. Friday at Lumpkin County High.

“Ever since August, we’ve been working our butts off for this,” said McKendree, who finished with 22 points. “We were more than excited for this, we were pumped. We all just wanted to make sure we could do this for our seniors and make sure this wasn’t their last game.”

Given her team’s red-hot form as of late, West Hall’s run might last a while. The Lady Spartans are riding an eight-game win streak, which already includes marquee wins over 7-AAA title contenders East Hall and Dawson County.

That streak never seemed in doubt when McKendree scored all 13 of West Hall’s first-quarter points to open up a 13-8 Spartans lead.

Three different scorers combined to 12-3 run that lasted the entire second quarter and pushed West Hall to a 14-point halftime advantage. West Hall held Lumpkin to just one field goal (a 3-pointer by Maleah Stepp with 1:13 left to play) in the entire second frame of action.

Avery Prather and Macy Passmore both totaled seven points apiece for West Hall, while Megan English scored six.

Hope Franklin was the lone Fannin County scorer who reached double digits, while Makenzie McClure and Lacey Walden both had seven points each.

“We’ve worked really hard since the beginning,” said West Hall coach Bryan Richerson. “The goal was to get to the playoffs from the beginning. I’m proud of them, but it’s going to be a tough road ahead.”

The Rebels cut the lead to 36-22 through the middle of the third quarter, but West Hall responded with a 6-0 run of its own to finish off the quarter and led by a game-high 20 points entering the final eight minutes.

Fannin County (6-19) lost five of its last six games to end its season.

McKendree said the team is focused on the next step, which will involve facing East Hall. The two teams split the regular season series.

“We’ve got to bring it to them tomorrow,” said McKendree. “We’ve been playing hard in practice so we can play hard in the game.”

EAST HALL GIRLS 71, LUMPKIN COUNTY 38: Ashlyn Ellison knew that pressure would pay off — she just didn’t know how successful that would be for the Lady Vikings.

Ellison, an Armstrong State signee, turned strong defense into offense time and time again for East Hall, leading her team with a season-high 30 points, including 21 in the first half as coach Justin Wheeler’s team secured its spot in the 7-AAA semifinals.

“I figured that if I put myself on them a lot, it would help,” she said. “We’ve just got to come out tomorrow against West Hall and do the same things, have a lot of energy.”

East Hall used a 20-0 run between the end of the first quarter and the first minute of the second quarter to pull away.

The Vikings led by 36 points at one point in the final quarter.

With the win, East Hall also booked its spot in the state tournament for the fourth straight season.

East Hall’s Jenny Edwards finished with nine points, while Carly Winters posted seven points.

Lumpkin County’s Hope Foster led the Lady Indians (6-20) with 14 points, Rylie Vaughan had 10 and Mallory Davidson finished with eight.

East Hall fell in the 7-AAA title game last year, but recovered to progress to the state semifinals. The Lady Vikings have won seven of their last eight games.

BANKS COUNTY 54, FRANKLIN COUNTY 48: The Lady Leopards outscored the Lady Lions 21-10 in the fourth quarter to ensure their spot in the 7-AAA semifinals with a comeback win Thursday in Oakwood.

Down by five heading into the final eight minutes, Banks County (14-12) allowed just three Franklin County field goals down the stretch, while scoring eight of their own.

Jaylyn Lock scored all of her 12 points in the final quarter to allow Banks County to book its spot in the state tournament.

The two teams were tied 48-48 with 1:58 left, but Lock’s long-range trey from the right side helped push Banks County across the line.

Banks County’s Mallory Parson led her team with 20 points, while Franklin County’s (16-10) Tiara Ellis (20 points) and Madison Williams (17 points) led the Lady Lions in scoring.

The game was a rematch of last year’s 7-AAA championship game, where Franklin fell to Banks County 57-51.
Banks County will next tackle top-seed Dawson County at 7 tonight in the semifinals in Dahlonega.

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