RABBITTOWN — The Union County girls rallied from an early deficit while the East Hall boys trailed just once as the two teams took wins Wednesday at the East Hall gym in a pair of key early-season Region 7-AAA tilts.
The games were rescheduled and moved to East Hall from Tuesday after the water pipes at the Union County gym burst due to the cold temperatures in the area.
In the girls game, Union County used a 19-2 run in the second and third quarters to erase a East Hall lead and sneak out of Valhalla with a huge 58-55 road win. In the boys contest, East Hall exploded for a 20-1 run in the first quarter en route to a 77-61 victory.
Lady Panthers coach Corey Garrett said he was more than pleased with how his young team responded to a plethora of adversity.
“We felt (on Tuesday) that we were ready to play and then we had to cancel. Then we found out we had to go on the road and that can be tough on a young team on such short notice,” Garrett said. “I thought the girls did a nice job of reacting well to all the changes.”
However, the Lady Panthers (9-4, 2-1 Region 7-AAA) fell behind quickly at 9-4 on three consecutive 3-pointers by the Lady Vikings, who have shown they are tough to stop when they get hot behind the arc. East Hall hit five of its first nine 3-pointers as they led 17-12 late in the first quarter.
But if you live by the 3-pointer, you can die by the 3-pointer. The Lady Vikings (7-8, 1-2) went ice-cold over the second and third quarters missing 14 straight treys. Union County took advantage.
Normally more comfortable in a half-court offense, the Lady Panthers used the East Hall misses to push a more uptempo style. The result would be their big run as they eventually led 43-28 midway through the third period.
“We knew (East Hall) could shoot it so we trust tried to contest shots,” Garrett said. “They missed some and we were able to get some transition baskets, which is kind of a bonus for us.”
But the Lady Vikings regained their stroke late in the quarter as Ivey Shadburn and Maggie Griffin both drained 3-pointers to fuel a 12-4 spurt to get within 45-37 heading into the fourth quarter.
East Hall continued to chip away and a Griffin basket with 3:03 left got the Lady Vikings within 52-50. But they could get no closer as Bailey Daniel hit a jumper and two free throws and Andelin Hill added a basket to push the lead back to 58-52 with 40 seconds left.
Shadburn did hit another trey with 32 seconds left to get within 58-55 but overall East Hall missed five of six 3-pointers in the final two minutes, including three in a frantic final 10 seconds with a chance to tie.
Daniel finished with a game-high 17 points to lead Union County. Hill and Kait McCarter each added 14 points for the Lady Panthers.
Carly Winters finished with 14 points, including three 3-pointers, for East Hall. Summer Lindsey and Shadburn both had 9 points for the Lady Vikings, who hit just 3-of-24 3-pointers after the first quarter.
EAST HALL BOYS 77,
UNION COUNTY 61
The boys matchup was a battle of early unbeaten teams who were tied with Dawson County atop the region standings.
In the opening two minutes, the teams traded three leads and the game was tied once at 2. Union County took its only lead at 5-4 on a Candler Colwell 3-pointer but Luke Cooper answered with a fastbreak basket and then a pair of free throws after a steal in a 3-second span to ignite the big run.
Luke Holtzclaw picked up the mantle from there hitting three of his six 3-pointers for the game over a four-minute stretch as the Vikings (7-6, 3-0) ran out to a 24-6 lead on Holtzclaw’s final trey of the period.
“We got off to a great start offensively and defensively and we tried to take away their shooters, which I thought we did a good job of in the first half,” East Hall boys coach Joe Dix said. “The second half, not so much.”
Union County (11-2, 2-1) trailed 44-29 at halftime and never got closer than 15 in the third quarter as Holtzclaw, who poured in a game-high 18 points, drained two more 3-pointers as East Hall led 57-41. But the Panthers found some holes in the Vikings defense in the early minutes of the fourth quarter.
Colwell started and ended a 16-4 run for the Panthers, who created some transition baskets off East Hall missed shots to pull within 63-57 with 4:00 left. But the East Hall defense clamped down in the final minutes holding Union County to just one Sawyer Drake field goal and a pair of Drake free throws the rest of the way.
Colwell finished with 13 points but Drake paced the Panthers with 17 points. RJ Banton added 10 points for Union County.
Cooper finished with 15 points for East Hall.
Jayvion Rucker, who scored 15 points on a variety of shots, had two big blocks of his five overall down the stretch for East Hall, who will now play host to Dawson County on Friday in a second straight showdown for the region lead. The Tigers beat North Hall on Wednesday.
“Jayvion saved us at the end but we’ll really need to play a lot better on defense against Dawson County,” Dix said. “They are probably the best shooting team in the region and they’re playing well right now.”
Union County plays host to Lumpkin County on Friday in Region 7-AAA action.