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Saturday May 30th, 2015 6:28AM

Lanierland: Late rally puts Chestatee in girls finals

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
GAINESVILLE -- Chestatee girls basketball coach Web Daniel is looking for some respect for his team.

The Lady War Eagles' may have picked up a few believers after their come-from-behind 46-41 win over North Hall Thursday in the semifinals of the Lanierland Tournament.

Chestatee trailed 41-34 with 4:02 left in the game but turned up the defense and made some offensive adjustments to close out the game with a 12-0 run. The Lady War Eagles forced six North Hall miscues, including on three consecutive possessions, and hit 12-of-13 free throws down the stretch to advance to their first Lanierland finals since 2010.

They will take on the Flowery Branch-East Hall winner Saturday at 7 p.m. at North Hall for the championship.

"Their defense was giving us trouble and we told the girls to drive the baseline and that got us some chances at the line," Daniel said. "I thought our defense was outstanding at the end of the game. We knew it would be a tough game and it was."

A key timeout midway through the fourth quarter by Daniel allowed his seniors to devise a plan.

"Basically Maegan (Kenimar) just said we're not going to lose the game and we found a way to get her the ball," Daniel said. "They did a good job of executing."

Kenimer took advantage going 7-of-8 from the line in the fourth quarter and scored nine of her game-high 15 points in the second half to go with six rebounds. Erin Clifford would hit four straight free throws in the final 1:38 to help preserve the win.

The win gave the Lady War Eagles (10-1) their best start in team history and was their ninth straight victory, another team record.

"We're playing well right now," Daniel said. "We have a lot of seniors and they expect to win so we're more than just happy to be in the finals. We would like to win our first Lanierland."

North Hall (6-2) looked firmly in control when Jordan Nix hit a driving layup for a 41-34 lead. But the Lady Trojans would not score again as the Chestatee defense used a trapping defense to force six turnovers and hold North Hall to 0-for-8 shooting in final 4:02.

The Lady Trojans finished with 23 turnovers for the game. Chestatee committed just 13 turnovers.

Sam Brown's driving baseline layup for a three-point-play opened up the North Hall defense and the Lady War Eagles took the lead for good two minutes later on a Kenimer free throw.

Bridgette Kelly would finish with 10 points for Chestatee, including two big 3-pointers, and Clifford had six, all in the second half.

North Hall was paced by Sydney Cleveland with 13 points, but none in the pivotal fourth quarter. Nix added 11 before being forced to leave the game with an injury late in the fourth quarter. Cleveland also had a team-high eight rebounds.

The game was nip-and-tuck the entire first half as neither team led by more than four points. North Hall opened with a 4-1 run but Chestatee answered with a 5-2 run to tie the game at 6.

North Hall went ahead 10-6 but the Lady War Eagles used an 8-0 run to grab a 14-10 lead. The teams traded baskets the next three minutes with Chestatee leading 19-15.

The Lady Trojans would find their offense in the final few minutes using a 7-2 run to close out the first half for a 22-21 halftime lead.
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