Over the course of her varsity basketball career, Carly Winters has never been one to shy away from the critical moments. She thrives. And in front of a packed audience inside East Hall’s gymnasium Wednesday, the senior delivered, and with ease, in a pair of crucial moments to finish one point shy of her career high for a thrilling overtime win against Banks County.
Winters put the finishing touches of her game-high 38-points by drilling her final three free throws to tie it with 1.7 seconds left in regulation, then knocked down three-straight from well beyond the arc in overtime time as the Lady Vikings held off the Leopards for a 75-74 win in Gainesville.
East Hall (3-4, 1-0 Region 7-3A) coach Justin Wheeler was not surprised by the clutch production of his longtime starter.
“She’s made shots like that since she was a freshman,” said Wheeler, who went on to recount other clutch shots in season’s past. “Sophomore year, she also hit a game-winning shot against Gainesville at Lanierland, so she’s been doing that for a long time. She had a heck of a night.”
Four of Winters’ nine treys came during that final 13-minute stretch and East Hall’s sharpshooter was a perfect 5 for 5 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to counter a last-ditch effort by Banks County. The Lady Leopards (5-2) outscored their hosts 21-11 to take a 63-58 lead with under a minute left.
Winters made a 3-pointer to cut it to 63-61 with 8.3 seconds on the clock.
And seconds later, she drew contact behind the 3-point-line before sending the Vikings faithful into a crescendo of cheers. She swished her last three attempts from the charity stripe to knot the score at 64-all.
Instead of relying on its full-court press, East Hall often mixed things up on the defensive side to combat an effective half-court offense by the Leopards. But Banks County capitalized on some East Hall lulls from underneath late, crashing the boards and getting close-range baskets from Allison Smith (17 points) and Jaycie Bowen (25 points) as the two combined for 18 of the Leopards’ 24 fourth-quarter points.
“We just tried to play man-to-man defense, get a stop and rebound. But we struggled at times, giving up close shots by the basket,” Wheeler said. When we couldn’t rebound I realized we gotta get somebody in the game who can rebound.”
Ashante Peoples stepped up to haul in those key rebounds late in regulation.
"That helped us out a ton," Wheeler said of Peoples. "She went in and she battled, and I thought she played well tonight.”
The Lady Vikings also got big-time production from Jenny Lopez with nine points, including a 4 for 4 mark from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, followed by Ivey Shadburn with eight.
Amber Williams (14 points) and Maddie Thomas (10 points) were others to reach double digits for Banks County
Wheeler feels Winters is close to beating her career-high. But as long as she keeps playing like she has, the coach said, they’ll be happy with that too.
Region 7-3A play picks back up for East Hall when it hosts Greater Atlanta Christian at 8:30 p.m. on Friday night. Banks County visits West Hall for a 5:30 p.m. tip off on Saturday in Oakwood.
BANKS COUNTY BOYS 83, EAST HALL BOYS 64: Dylan Orr wowed the crowd with a slew of one-handed and two-handed jams as he racked up a team-high 20 points for the unbeaten Leopards (6-0), and Class 2A’s top-ranked squad recorded their second win over East Hall this year.
Also for Banks County, Gabe Martin had 19 points, followed by Carl Cleveland with 15. Bosko Norman and Gatlin Lunsford added 11 points apiece.
Qua Butler (14 points), Luke Cooper (13 points) were the only starters to amass double figures for East Hall, which fell to 1-4 for the season.