The ambience of East Hall’s gymnasium on Tuesday night was predominantly quiet — until Carly Winters let go of the ball midair.
Winters lit up the floor with a team-high 26 points and the Lady Vikings rolled to their third region win, 42-21, over Union County in Gainesville.
Winters caught steam two minutes into the game with three 3-pointers and went on to generate over half the Lady Vikings’ point total with a monster effort from beyond the arc, knocking down six treys from all sides over Union County’s tight interior look.
“She was in rhythm tonight,” said East Hall girl’s coach Justin Wheeler. “I think that was the biggest thing. She was stepping into her shots, and she was confident she was gonna knock ‘em down.”
The Vikings (8-7, 3-1 Region 7-AAA) also overcame an inefficient shooting half to pull away in the second half. The Vikings outscored Union County 16-5 in the third quarter, and 9-3 in the fourth on the shoulders of Winters and Kylah Mize (five rebounds), who scored six of her 10 points down low in the final 16 minutes.
Mize caught the brunt of East Hall’s struggles from inside the paint for the first two quarters, even catching her coach off guard after asking his assistant her point total at intermission. Union County capitalized on that short window by tying it at 13-all in the final minute of the half before Winters and Maggie Griffin generated a pair of buckets off back-to-back steals to give the Vikings back the lead.
“I just told them (at halftime) attack, get in the paint,” said Wheeler. “Once we started doing that, things started opening up.”
But Winters’ big night could not be overshadowed.
Whether it was from the right or left wing, the corner or from the very top of the arc, the Vikings’ sharpshooter of the evening made the shots when her team needed it.
She added three more treys as part of a 15-point showing in the second half, all in big moments to keep the visiting Panthers chasing.
Union County’s Grace Wishmeyer put the Panthers within one just minutes into the third quarter. Winters turned it back on, first draining her fourth 3-pointer of the contest from way outside the right wing. Winters added another five points to the pot of a 13-0 run that included a Macy Thomas’ 3, and Kylah Mize layup.
Winters generated five of the Vikings’ 15 steals, also adding one assist and a block. Summer Lindsey and Griffin (three points) had three steals apiece. Brittany Thornton led the Panthers with eight points.
East Hall continues region play against Dawson County 7 p.m. Friday in Gainesville.
EAST HALL BOYS 79, UNION COUNTY 64: Five players amassed double figures, senior Mahki Brown leading the way with 22, and the Vikings were able to rise above a chippy Region 7-AAA game Tuesday which saw both teams combine for 59 personal fouls.
The Vikings (9-6, 3-1) trailed by six at intermission, but outscored the Panthers 45-24 in the second half. Brown scored eight points during a 12-4 run to help put the Vikings ahead by four after three quarters. The Vikings led by as much as 13, going 12 of 13 from the charity stripe to close the door.
Deonte Evans added 14 points — 12 in the second half — behind Brown, while Sedrion Morse (11 points), Luke Cooper (11) and Trevor Rider (10) were others to reach double digits.