FLOWERY BRANCH -- Lakeview Academy girls basketball coach John Carrick said if you want to get out of the basement you have to take that first step.
The Lady Lions may have done just that Saturday with a stunning 57-51 win over Flowery Branch in the first round of the Lanierland Tournament.
The win moves Lakeview (4-2) into the semifinals for the first time ever. The Lady Lions will take on North Hall Friday at the Lakeview gym.
"Any win for us is a big win. But this is something we needed if we want to get out of the basement in Hall County," Carrick said. "I thought we played well at stretches but we need to learn how to close games out better."
Lakeview won a consolation game in 2012 but had never won a first-round game in the tournament.
Lakeview held Flowery Branch to one field goal over an 8:56 span in the second and third quarters while opening up a 40-22 lead. They would maintain the lead taking a 47-29 advantage on a 3-pointer by Marlee Rochester with 6:20 left in the game.
After struggling for more than two quarters, the Lady Falcons' offense finally got going. They used a 20-7 run to trim the lead to 54-49 with 36 seconds left on five consecutive points by Kierra Knight.
Janoah Williams would hit two free throws to pull Flowery Branch within 55-51 with four seconds left but they could not complete the comeback.
Lakeview's Hanna Grogan drained two free throws two seconds later to seal the win.
"I thought our guard play, especially Ansley Cash, was very good most of the game," Carrick said. "This gives us something to build on."
Grogan led Lakeview with 18 points. Cash finished with 15 points and five rebounds and Schyler Miller added 10 points for the Lady Lions.
Williams paced Flowery Branch (3-4) with nine points. Knight and Maddie Hetzel had seven points each for the Lady Falcons.
Lakeview used a 13-1 run over the final 4:28 of the second quarter to take control of the game.
The Lady Lions' Katie Gay had three consecutive steals that led to six points by Ansley Cash in the run.
Flowery Branch opened the game strong running out to a 8-2 lead in the first four minutes of the game. But Lakeview answered with an 8-2 run of its own to tie the game with 1:11 left in the first quarter.
Hetzel drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Flowery Branch a 15-14 lead after the opening period. Lakeview opened the second quarter with a 6-0 spurt to retake the lead and Flowery Branch answered with five straight points to tie the game at 20 with 4:28 left in the half.
Lakeview's defense sparked the big run forcing six Flowery Branch turnovers over the final four minutes and held the Lady Falcons to just one Kylah Mize free throw over that span.
Defending Lanierland champion Chestatee used a 19-2 run in the first quarter to blow open a close game en route to the win.
The game was tied 2-2 early before the Lady War Eagles (8-1) exploded for a 21-4 lead. They would take a 26-7 lead into the second quarter.
Chestatee turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter holding the Lady Knights to just two points while scoring the final 12 points of the half and building a 41-9 halftime lead.
Bridgette Kelly led Chestatee with 14 points. Savannah Long added 10 points and Kayla Watson eight points for the Lady War Eagles in just over one half of work.
Kimmie Brady scored nine points to lead Johnson. Sarah Williams and Hannah Hester had six points each for the Lady Knights.
Chestatee next will play Gainesville in the semifinals at 8:30 p.m. at Lakeview Academy.
EAST HALL 43
The Gainesville girls laid down an impressive early marker pulling away from East Hall for a first round win.
The Lady Red Elephants (5-1) led just 23-22 at halftime but outscored the Lady Vikings 21-12 in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Paisley Lee put up a game-high 15 points to pace Gainesville -- which saw 10 players score in the win. Breana Fair also added nine points, while Tamia Rucker and Sophia Jackson added seven apiece.
The Lady Red Elephants began to pull away in the third quarter, utilizing a pressure defense that yielded plenty of fast-break points, as Gainesville outscored East Hall 15-9 in the third quarter.
Jatasia Bailey and Ashlyn Ellison each scored nine to lead East Hall.
Gainesville moves on to face Chestatee at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Lakeview Academy in the semifinals.
The Lady Vikings fell into the consolation bracket, where they will play again at 4 p.m. Thursday vs. the loser of the Chestatee vs. Johnson match-up at Flowery Branch.
NORTH HALL 72,
WEST HALL 46
The Lady Trojans took control in the second quarter and never let the Lady Spartans pull within single digits the rest of the way, as North Hall moved into the Lanierland semifinals at Flowery Branch High.
Sydney Cleveland scored 11 second quarter points, including a 3-pointer that helped spark a 12-4 run for North Hall just before halftime, as the Lady Trojans took a 35-15 lead.
West Hall scored back-to-back baskets to start the third quarter, pulling within 35-23 on Jensen Hall's lay-up. But North Hall answered with a 15-0 run, including three 3-pointers that yielded a 50-23 advantage.
Sydney Cleveland scored a game-high 17 points for North Hall, while Katie Sayres added 11 and Sadie Cleveland 10. Kensi Gillespie also added eight.
Maia Caldwell-Booker paced the Lady Spartans with 12 points, while Hall and Mackenzie Satterfield each added 10 points in the defeat.
West Hall will look to bounce back against the loser of the Flowery Branch vs. Lakeview contest at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Flowery Branch.
North Hall moves on to play Lakeview Academy in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday at Lakeview Academy.