Wednesday August 10th, 2022 6:47PM

(VIDEO) Lanierland boys semis: East Hall grinds way into finals; GHS routs Lakeview

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter
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GAINESVILLE — Deonte Evans was by far the smallest player on the floor.

But the junior guard was huge down the stretch for East Hall as the Vikings were able to hold off North Hall 56-53 Thursday in the semifinals of the Lanierland Tournament.

Evans, who returned this season from a torn ACL, had eight of his team-high 14 points in the fourth quarter as East Hall advanced to the finals for a second consecutive year.

“(Deonte) had his best game of the year,” East Hall coach Joe Dix said. “He carried us at the end when we needed someone to step forward. I’m so proud of him right now.”

They needed everything they could get from the roster with leading scorer Mahki Brown not playing in the tournament.

“It’s a big accomplishment for this group to get to the finals,” Dix said. “We’re without our leading scorer and the guys just fought the whole game.”

The Vikings will now see if they can take down Class AAAAAA No. 1 Gainesville in the finals. The Red Elephants walloped a very good Lakeview Academy team 104-67 in the other semifinals.

Tip-off for the finals is slated to begin at 8 p.m. Friday at the Gainesville gym.

It was a grind the entire game for both offenses as the defenses contested every shot, evidenced by the more than 40 fouls called for the game and the combined 62 free throw attempts.

East Hall used a 14-5 run to open the third quarter to open up a 34-24 lead and took a 36-29 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Vikings (8-4) withstood several fourth quarter rallies by the Trojans (9-5) who methodically whittled down a 45-34 deficit after a Luke Cooper 3-pointer over the final five minutes by sending the Vikings to the free throw line.

East Hall missed 3-of-4 free throws and North Hall’s Alec Volle hit a pair to pull the Trojans within 51-47 with 52 seconds left. The Vikings hit 3-of-4 to push the lead back to 54-47 but a Noah Holman basket with 13 seconds left got North Hall within 55-51. Evans sealed it with a free throw in the final 5 seconds and a Holman basket at the buzzer provided the final score.

“It was a grind on offense because both defenses I thought played really well,” Dix said. “We were finally able to hit some shots in the third quarter and gave us a (cushion).”

Cooper finished with 11 points for East Hall. 

Evan Easton paced North Hall with 15 points. Volle added 12 points and Taylor Hanson 10 for the Trojans.

Both teams missed chances to either blow the game open or retake the lead. East Hall was just 20-for-33 from the line while North Hall was just 19-of-29 from the line for the game.

North Hall will play Lakeview Academy semifinal in the third-place game at 5 p.m. Friday at the Gainesville gym.


The two teams traded three lead changes in the opening minutes before the Red Elephants exploded for a 25-8 run to take control en route to the win.

All 11 players on the roster scored for Gainesville (13-0) but it was a tenacious defense that set the tone.

“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Gainesville coach Benjie Wood said. “The kids are understanding that every game is 32 minutes and we’re trying to win every minute.”

The Gainesville offense showed its versatility with five different players scoring at least three points in the decisive early run. The defense also did its part forcing seven turnovers that led to 10 points as they took aa 29-15 lead after the first quarter.

Bailey Minor and Xavier Bledson led the assault combining for four 3-pointers in the opening period. The Red Elephants kept the pressure on in the second quarter opening up a 43-19 lead.

Lakeview answered with a 9-0 run, capped by a Adam Cottrell 3-pointer, to pull within 43-28 but Gainesville pushed its lead back to 56-39 by halftime.

Not content with the lead, Gainesville exploded for another huge run, this time going on a 27-102 run, capped by a beautiful alley-oop dunk from Austin Long to Jarrell Rosser to end the third quarter with an 86-53 lead.

Long would later provide the century-mark points with a tip-in basket.

“The chemistry on this team is outstanding,” Wood said. “They love each other and enjoy playing together. I think the future is still high for this group.”

Minor led the way for Gainesville with 21 points, including four 3-pointers. Michael White had 17 off the bench and Bledson finished with 16 points, also knocking down four 3-pointers. Kajuan Hale added 10 points and Jarrell Rosser had nine for the Red Elephants.

Lakeview Academy was paced by 16 points from Josh Randolph. Trey Gober added 15, Drew Cottrell 10, Ryan Lackey had nine off the bench, 
and Adam Cottrell had eight points off the bench as well.

Wood said they were not looking past the Lions as they tried to get back to the finals for the first time since 2014 and look for their first title since 2010.

“We’re just taking things one game at a time,” he said. “It’s nice to get back to the finals but we’ll have to play well to win.”

Lakeview Academy will play North Hall in the third-place game at 5 p.m. Friday at the Gainesville gym.


The Falcons held West Hall to just 13 total points in the second and third quarters while pulling away for the surprising big win.

Flowery Branch (11-3) raced out to a 9-2 lead behind senior guard John Mills in the opening three minutes.

Mills came out on fire hitting his first four 3-point shots to help the Falcons run out to a fast 16-4 lead. Flowery Branch hit five 3-pointers in the first quarter.

A key moment was when West Hall leading scorer Xzavier Reid was called for a technical foul. It was second foul in the opening three minutes and he did not return scoring just four points.

Despite, not having Reid on the floor, the Spartans (4-9) trailed just 18-10 following an A.J. Howard basket late in the first quarter. But a Patsheko Lutumba trey gave the Flowery Branch a 21-10 lead and West hall never got closer the rest of the way.

The Falcons, who hit seven of their eight 3-pointers in the first half, continued their 3-point attack in the second quarter taking a 35-17 lead into halftime. They outscored the Spartans 26-13 in the second and third quarters and took a 47-23 lead into the final period.

Flowery branch led by as many as 31 in the fourth quarter.

Lutumba led Flowery Branch with 17 points. Mills finished with 16 and Fred Johnson had 10 for the Falcons.

Braden Martin came off the bench to pace West Hall with 11 points. Noah Edmondson added eight for the Spartans.

Flowery Branch will play Chestatee at 2 p.m. on Friday in the fifth-place game. West Hall will take on Johnson at 11 a.m. in the seventh-place game.


Chestatee drained  10 3-pointers and pulled away in the second half to knock off Johnson in the consolation round.

The game was right in the first half as the War Eagles (5-11) led 17-12 after the first quarter. They took a 37-31 lead into halftime as neither team could get a big run going.

The War Eagles came out firing in the third quarter outscoring the Knights (6-8) 22-12 to take a 59-43 lead into the fourth quarter. Johnson woulkd chip away in the final minutes as Chestatee was just 5-of-10 from the free throw line allowing the Knights to get within seven points.

Donovan Hernandez continued his strong tournament play with 18 points to pace Chestatee. Cooper Wilson finished with 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Nick Lyles added 11 for the War Eagles.

Will Richter paced Johnson with 18 points. Dwayne Wilson added 11 for the Knights. Kylon Curry had eight points, all in the first half for Johnson.

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