GAINESVILLE -- In their chase for the No. 2 seed in Region 7-AAA, the White County boys desperately needed a win Tuesday against East Hall on the road.
So when things were not going well and the Warriors trailed 46-39 at halftime, White County coach Sam Borg just told his team to take a deep breath and relax.
It obviously worked.
The Warriors exploded for a 31-point third quarter to take the lead and then held off a furious fourth quarter rally to knock off the Vikings 94-88 at the East Hall gym.
"We talked about composure and just taking a deep breath and come out and play like they know how to," Borg said. "This is a big win for us. We really needed this for some confidence."
The Warriors (15-7, 7-5 Region 7-AAA) had lost three of four region games coming into Tuesday's action and pulled within a game of East Hall (12-11, 8-4) with two games left. However, White County will play host to Banks County on Friday before finishing the regular season Saturday on the road against region-unbeaten Buford. The Warriors are 8-3 in true road games this season.
"We still have some work to do but we're hoping this will get us going and we can make a push for the second spot," Borg said. "I didn't realize we were that good on the road. Sometimes you focus better when you're away from friends and parents and things."
The third quarter was the turning point as the Warriors turned the halftime deficit into a 70-60 lead going into the fourth quarter. With East Hall's Kyvon Davenport on bench with foul trouble, Maurice Sutton took advantage pouring in eight of his 10 points inside while pulling down three rebounds in the period.
Jordan Egerton and Whit Mauney would drain long 3-pointers for White County as they used a 17-0 run to go with 0-for-10 shooting in a 3:44 span by the Vikings to turn a 60-56 deficit into a 73-60 lead.
East Hall would get back in the game in late stages of the fourth quarter fouling the Warriors quickly and then looking to cash in on 3-pointers. The Vikings got as close as 91-88 with 23 seconds left on a three-point play by Antonio Maddox.
White County hit 7-of-8 free throws to start the fouling barrage but then missed 6-of-8 to help East Hall close the gap. But, two free throws by Spencer Adams with 10.8 seconds left sealed the win as the Vikings missed four 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds.
"East Hall had the right strategy of fouling and we almost handed the game back to them," Borg said. "We hit just enough (free throws) to hold on."
The Warriors showed tremendous balance with six players finishing in double figures. Mauney finished with 19 points, four rebounds, and two assists and Will Gearing added 18 points and six rebounds. Adams finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, Egerton had 12 points, and Juwan Dorsey 11 points for White County.
Maddox finished with 10 points to pace East Hall. Jacquen Hopkins added 15 points, three rebounds and three assists, and Tristan Cooper and Roderick Hughey had 10 points each. Hughey also pulled down seven rebounds. Davenport was held to just nine points and four rebounds.
Five ties and eight lead changes highlighted the first half. The Vikings ran out to a 16-10 midway through the first quarter after a pair of Roderick Hughey baskets but White County used an 11-5 run over the final 2:38 to take a 22-21 lead.
The Warriors would lead 26-24 on two Mauney free throws early in the second quarter but the Vikings used a 13-3 run, capped by a Maddox 3-pointer, to take control. East Hall pushed its lead to 44-33 on two Jordan jackson free throws with 1:30 left but White County closed out the half with a 6-2 run on six straight points by Gearing, including a stick-back basket with three seconds left, to cut the lead to 46-39 by halftime.
The Vikings built their lead from the outside hitting 4-of-5 3-pointers while White County was just 1-for-6 from 3-point range in the first half.
EAST HALL GIRLS 49
WHITE COUNTY 45
Jatasia Bailey hit five 3-pointers and scored 19 points to lead the Lady Vikings to the upset win. East Hall (11-12, 4-8 Region 7-AAA) was a blistering 8-of-14 on 3-pointers as a team for the game.
Both teams came in struggling having lost seven straight games combined. But Ashlyn Ellison gave the Lady Vikings a much-needed spark.
The sophomore guard helped the Lady Vikings start fast draining one of four Lady Vikings' first quarter 3-pointers as they stormed out to a 16-8 lead late in the first quarter. Ellison had five points and three rebounds in the first quarter.
"We've been working with Ashlyn and she's starting to pick up her game," East Hall coach Justin Wheeler said. "She's quick on defense and makes us go on offense. That was a big win for us. Hopefully this will get us going with the (region) tournament coming up next week."
The win for the Lady Vikings snapped a three game losing streak. The loss for White County (13-8, 5-7) was its fifth straight.
After the first quarter blitz, White County would answer back in the second quarter rallying to tie the game at 21 on a 3-pointer by Kaitlin Wilson to cap a 13-5 run. East Hall would take a 23-21 halftime lead on a basket by Jenny Edwards in the final seconds.
The third quarter was similar to the first with the Lady Vikings hitting their first four 3-pointers of the half, three by Jatasia Bailey, to pull out to a 39-28 lead early in the fourth quarter. But again the Lady Warriors would rally.
Abby Craven would cap a furious 13-2 run with a basket to tie the game at 41 with 4:04 left. But Ellison would spark a final East Hall run with a running jumper and then assisting on a layup by Allison Millwood for a 45-41 lead with 2:25 left.
The Lady Vikings would seal the win at the free throw line hitting 4-of-6 in the final 1:03 of the game.
Edwards finished with 12 points, 8-of-9 on free throws, to go with four assists and four rebounds for East Hall. Ellison had 10 points, eight rebounds, and two assists for the Lady Vikings.
Paige Thomas and Craven led the Lady Warriors with 12 points each. Wilson added 10 points and four assists for White County.