For the second consecutive year, the North Hall basketball team walked into East Hall on a hot streak and walked out with a win. The Trojans scored 46 points in the first half of the game — 26 coming in the second quarter alone — going up big early on the host Vikings before eventually pulling out an 80-73 win to push their win streak to three games.
“Anytime you win a region game on the road, it’s big,” North Hall coach Tyler Sanders said. “It’s always good to start off in the region 1-0. I thought our kids did some really good things tonight.”
Clark Howell scored 25 points to lead the way for the Trojans, but the victory was much more of a full team win than the result of any individual effort.
Ten different North Hall players scored at least a point on the game.
“We don’t have any superstars,” Sanders said. “The kids know that. They’ve bought into that. They understand that. They do it together, and that’s what makes them special.”
That team-first attitude was on display early, as four different Trojan players scored layups to put together an 8-3 to start the game. North Hall kept up the heat throughout the period, but struggled to gain any separation from East Hall thanks to the Vikings five made 3-point shots in the opening eight minutes, three coming from sophomore guard Clete Cooper.
But Howell responded with three treys of his own in the second frame, and a 12-2 run over a three-minute period helped the Trojans take their first double-digit lead of the contest. The advantage went as high as 16 points before East Hall started to respond.
The Vikings’ Aaron Thomas scored a quick 8 points right before halftime off a couple of successful trips to the free throw line, and Cooper drew a foul with barely a second to go before the break, making both shots to get his team within 12 points of the lead at halftime.
East Hall kept the pressure up in the third quarter, pushing to within 5 points on a couple of occasions, but 3-pointers from Howell and Brock Cooper kept the momentum from swinging too far in the opposite direction.
“(East Hall is) a team that’s built on making runs and causing turnovers,” Sanders said. “You just have to weather those runs and be patient.”
And while the Vikings managed to push to within 7 points going into the final period, North Hall’s Luke Gunter started the quarter off by scoring 7 straight points of his own and then dishing an assist to Matthew Gunter to jump right back into a 14-point lead — an advantage that was never really threatened the rest of the way.
“I think it’ll give us a lot of confidence,” Sanders said of the win. “You go into someone else’s gym in the region and you win, it’s a big deal.”
NORTH HALL GIRLS 49, EAST HALL 33: It was a slow start for the Lady Trojans, but the finish more than made up for it.
East Hall took an early, 1-point advantage after the first quarter off of three made 3-pointers, but North Hall’s defense stepped up in a big way from there.
The Lady Trojans held the Lady Vikings to single digits in each of the remaining three frames — keeping them to only 6 points in the second and fourth quarters — and slowly built up an insurmountable deficit to cruise to the region win.
Lauren Swanson scored 19 to pace North Hall, while Alexis Burce contributed 14 for East Hall in the losing effort.