The West Hall boys basketball team nearly let an early lead over visiting Chestatee slip away. But a timely late run, consistent free throw shooting and strong fourth-quarter defense helped the Spartans to emerge with a 64-51 win Tuesday night.
“I thought our defense was really good,” West Hall coach Bobby Pless said. “I thought our energy and focus, for the most part, was about the best I’ve seen it. Chestatee’s a dangerous team.”
Noah Edmondson led the way for the Spartans (7-14, 5-5 Region 7-4A), pouring in 25 points to go along with two steals and a block. Cameron Gwyn scored 13 to pace the War Eagles (13-9, 4-6).
The opening quarter of the game was largely a defensive affair. West Hall trailed by two before a trio of 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the frame — each coming from a different Spartans player — put the home team up by seven after eight minutes.
It didn’t take long for West Hall to push that lead higher in the second period. In a span of little more than 30 seconds, Edmondson hit a trey, blocked a shot from Gwyn and then connected on another 3 to get the Spartans lead into double digits.
“I think we played well as a team,” Edmondson said. “We came in with a good mindset.”
A 12-2 run in the middle of the quarter was enough for West Hall to take a 13-point advantage going into halftime. During the break, Pless stressed the importance of keeping effort high, even though his team already held a large lead.
“If you have a 12, 13 point lead against (Chestatee), in three or four possessions if you let them shake loose and get 3s, you’re in trouble,” he said.
Energy was not an issue early in the second half, mostly thanks to the continued efforts of Edmondson.
After Braden Martin got the scoring going for the Spartans, Edmondson scored six straight points in an 8-3 run to start the third quarter.
“During halftime, I just encouraged our guys, ‘Come out stronger. Keep that mindset. We’ve got to get this victory,’” he said.
Still, Chestatee was not prepared to go down without a fight. Gwyn hit on three treys in the last half of the third frame, eventually cutting the Spartans’ lead to just six going into the final period.
But the fourth quarter was all West Hall.
The Spartans started off hot, scoring the first eight points of the quarter. The team combined to make 12 of 15 free throw attempts to keep the War Eagles at bay.
Defensively, West Hall was even better.
Over the entire eight-minute span, the Spartans allowed just two field goals, outscoring Chestatee 17-10 to close out the win.
“I just knew that I didn’t want us to relax on defense,” Pless said of the fourth-quarter performance. “I’m cool with them hitting a shot if they have to shoot over a hand. That’s tough. I thought the fourth quarter we did a really good job just staying with them.”
CHESTATEE GIRLS 46, WEST HALL 28: The Lady War Eagles struggled to pull away from the Lady Spartans for three quarters Tuesday night. But a dominant fourth-quarter effort that saw Chestatee outscore West Hall 16-3 to seal the game.
“I was not very pleased in the first half, but right now during this time of the season, we’ve got to grind through it,” Chestatee coach Sutton Shirley said. “Today we got a region win on the road, and that’s big for us.”
Senior guard Christina Garcia scored six of her team-leading 11 points in the fourth quarter to power the Lady War Eagles (12-11, 6-4 Region 7-4A) to the runaway victory. Kylie Stasierowski put in 10 for West Hall (5-15, 1-8).
Both teams had offensive difficulties early on. Chestatee held a 9-6 advantage after eight minutes before the Lady War Eagles started to find their groove. The visiting team started the second period on a 9-3 run to helped it take a seven-point lead going into the halftime break.
West Hall cut that lead to five going into the final frame thanks to seven quick points in the final two minutes of the third quarter. But Chestatee outscored the Lady Spartans 12-1 in the first six minutes of the fourth and never looked back.
“I thought they did play hard,” Shirley said. “That’s something that these girls, it’s been a battle to get them to do that consistently. But in this game right there, they grinded it out and played hard for four quarters.”