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High school basketball: West Hall boys pull away in third quarter to claim Region 7-4A win over Flowery Branch
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West Hall's Chase Reed goes up for a layup against Flowery Branch on Friday, Jan. 10 at West Hall High School. - photo by Nathan Berg

The West Hall boys basketball team started slow Friday night against Flowery Branch at home, but when it mattered most, the Spartans made the plays they needed to win. Following a tight opening half, the team exploded out of the intermission to dominate the third quarter and roll to a 51-33 win to defend the home court in the Region 7-4A matchup. West Hall led by just 3 points at halftime, but Spartans head coach Bobby Pless said the Spartans did not need to make any dramatic adjustments at the break to find their rhythm down the stretch. 

“Bottom line is, we made some shots,” he said. “We missed some shots down there early in the game, and when you miss close, after a while, your kids start pressing a little bit mentally. I think once we hit some shots, that just helped us because we weren’t dependent on just one guy to score.”

Sawyer Passmore put in 16 points to lead the team, but nine different players made their way onto the scoresheet to supplement West Hall’s team effort in the region victory. 

And while the Spartans would eventually find their offensive flow in the second half, the host team struggled early in the game. 

Flowery Branch jumped into an early lead behind three straight buckets from Ashton Brick, and a Passmore 3-pointer at the midpoint of the first quarter was about all the offense West Hall could muster to start off. Passmore and Colton Smith both connected on treys early in the second frame though, and the Spartans reclaimed the lead just two minutes into the period. 

Meanwhile, the Falcons offense went cold, managing just 7 total points in the quarter, though a late 3 from Trevor Gurske helped Flowery Branch to pull within 3 points going into halftime. 

But West Hall took over completely from there. 

After a brief scoreless period to start the second half, the Spartans rattled off a 14-1 spurt that spanned six minutes of game time and culminated in layup from Canaan Koger followed by a Passmore steal and score off the in bound that forced the Falcons to call a timeout to regroup. 

West Hall led 35-23 going into the final frame, and kept up the defensive pressure, preventing Flowery Branch from making a shot from the field until less than three minutes remained on the clock. 

Passmore hit on another 3 early in the period, and a 9-1 Spartans run closed the door on the region win.

FLOWERY BRANCH GIRLS 59, WEST HALL 31: Ashlee Locke scored 17 points for the Lady Falcons, as they ran away with the road victory following a hotly contested first quarter. Kinsey Wilson put in 21 for West Hall, including her 1,000th career point for the Lady Spartans on a layup midway through the fourth frame. 

Wilson scored 8 in the opening period to help keep West Hall competitive early as the teams ended the first at a 10-10 stalemate. But Locke countered with 8 points of her own in the second frame to lead Flowery Branch to a 28-17 lead at halftime. 

The Lady Falcons scored the first 7 points of the third quarter, pushing their lead to 21 heading into the fourth, and finishing the game off on an 8-0 run to close out the Lady Spartans and capture the Region 7-4A win.

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