OAKWOOD — In a game of runs, the North Hall girls saved their best for last Friday in their Lanierland semifinal showdown with rival Gainesville.
North Hall outscored Gainesville 17-6 in overtime to take an intense 83-72 victory in front of a packed West Hall gym to earn their spot Saturday's finals. The Lady Trojans will await the Chestatee/Flowery Branch winner.
North Hall was up 50-40 after the third quarter, but Gainesville mounted an impressive comeback, capped by a step-back 3-pointer from Tia Shelton with 11 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.
Ansleigh Ferguson led the way for North Hall with 24, including several key stick-back baskets and anchored the North Hall defense in the middle. Maci Gillespie stepped up huge for the Lady Trojans posting a double-double 11 points and 10 assists, all while being pesky on the defensive end.
“A couple people stepped up and their teammates fed off that,” North Hall coach Kristi House said. “Maci (Gillespie) did a great job of leading our team and just kept everybody focused. She does a great job of finding people.
"When the game goes down the stretch, it’s going to be in her hands, and we’re going to trust her to handle it and finish it for us. I’m just super proud of all of them.”
Once the game went into overtime, the Lady Trojans took over. Grace Hollifield led North Hall in overtime, scoring six of her team’s 17 points in the extra period. Hollifield finished with 21 points for North Hall.
Gainesville opened the scoring in the overtime, going ahead 68-66, but the game was eventually at a stalemate at 70 with 2:50 left to play. From there, the Lady Trojans closed the game on an 11-2 spurt that earned North Hall a chance to win its first girls Lanierland title since 2012.
The Lady Red Elephants had the game’s two leading scorers in Shelton and Tija Blackwell, who had 29 and 27, respectively. But North Hall had four players in double figures. Macy Clark added 12 for North Hall.
Gainesville will play in the third-place game Saturday at 3 p.m. at West Hall against the loser of the Chestatee/Flowery Branch semifinal.
FLOWERY BRANCH 67
CHEROKEE BLUFF 38
Stingy defense and a fierce shooting performance behind the arc led to a blowout win for the Flowery Branch Falcons in the semifinals Friday night against Chestatee.
Flowery Branch was on fire from deep, draining five 3-pointers in the first half and eight total.
“Our game plan is never to shoot a bunch of 3-pointers,” Flowery Branch coach Courtney Newton-Gonzalez said. “I’m proud of our kids for knocking them down. I think they needed that confidence-wise. Just hitting some outside shots to open the lane for Ashlee to get some easy looks.”
The Branch will aim for its fourth-consecutive Lanierland title when they face North Hall in the championship game tomorrow night at 6 p.m. at West Hall.
“Lanierland is important to every program that plays in it, and obviously our goal is to win it,” Newton-Gonzalez said.
The Lady Falcons scored 13 of the game’s first 15 points to open the semifinal battle in a blistering fashion. Flowery Branch’s fiery start led to a 24-7 advantage after the first quarter, and a 41-17 led at the end of the first half.
Four of the Lady Falcons’ first six baskets were from beyond the arc. Branch's potent outside game helped Ashlee Locke in the paint. Locke poured in a game-high 19 points.
Cristina Garcia was the Lady War Eagles highest scorer on the night with 13.
Ashley Woodroffe and Ashley Scott each chipped in 13 and 10 for Flowery Branch.
Chestatee will face Gainesville in the third-place game tomorrow at 3 p.m. at West Hall.
Friday’s schedule (at West Hall High School)
-- Consolation bracket
Lakeview Academy girls 63, East Hall 52
Johnson boys 71, Flowery Branch 67 OT
Cherokee Bluff girls 47, West Hall 31
Cherokee Bluff boys 62, West Hall 35
North Hall 83, Gainesville girls 72 OT
East Hall boys 73, North Hall 42
Flowery Branch girls 67 Chestatee 38
Gainesville boys 60, Lakeview 59
Saturday’s schedule (at West Hall High School)
-- Consolation bracket
East Hall girls vs. West Hall, 9 a.m.
West Hall boys vs. Flowery Branch, 10:30 a.m.
Lakeview Academy girls vs. Cherokee Bluff, 12 p.m.
Johnson boys vs. Cherokee Bluff, 1:30 p.m.
Gainesville girls vs.Chestatee, 3 p.m.
North Hall boys vs. Gainesville/Lakeview Academy loser, 4:30 p.m.
-- Finals (Coverage on WDUN AM 550 & FM 102.9)
North Hall girls vs. Flowery Branch, 6 p.m.
East Hall boys vs. Gainesville, 7:30 p.m.