GAINESVILLE — Defending champion Gainesville opened defense of its 2020 title with a 55-30 win over Johnson on Tuesday in the first round of the 62nd Lanierland Tournament at Lakeview Academy.
Caloni Young poured in 11 early points, including three 3-pointers, as the Lady Red Elephants (7-5) ran out to a fast 16-1 lead in the opening three minutes. Johnson (2-8) never recovered.
“I like the way we’re playing offensively right now,” Gainesville coach Alan Griffin said. “I love the way we’re sharing the ball. We still need to get better on the defensive, though.”
The only Johnson (2-8) points in that stretch came on an Emely Trejo free throw. Gainesville led 20-3 before Ashley Mintz got the Lady Knights’ first field goal to open the second quarter.
The Lady Red Elephants closed out the first half with a 19-7 run for a 39-12 halftime lead. Gainesville eventually took a 48-21 lead into the fourth quarter.
Up next for Gainesville will be rival North Hall in the semifinals. Griffin said he knows what to expect.
“We’ve played them twice since I became coach. The first one went to overtime [in a North Hall win] and the other was decided in the last five seconds. I’m expecting a huge battle,” he said. “(North Hall girls coach Kristi) Houses legend and is one of the best coaches in the state. She always has her teams ready. There’s no reason to expect anything different this time.”
Caloni Young finished with 17 points, all in the first half, to pace Gainesville. However, she was forced to leave in the third quarter with an injury, though Griffin said she should be available for Wednesday’s semifinal.
Amaya Topps scored 14 points and Kinsleigh Teasley had 8 points for the Lady Red Elephants.
Mintz led Johnson with 14 points. Sarah Johnson had 11 points for the Lady Knights.
Johnson next will play Cherokee Bluff at noon on Wednesday at Gainesville High in the consolation bracket.
LAKEVIEW ACADEMY 58,
EAST HALL 52
The spirit and energy of Lanierland are alive and well according to Lakeview Academy girls coach John Carrick.
His Lady Lions pulled off the biggest upset of the 2021 tournament on Tuesday, knocking off No. 2 seed East Hall, 58-52, on their home floor in the first round of the 62nd Lanierland Tournament at Lakeview Academy.
“Before the game, the girls were hyped up like I hadn’t seen all year,” Carrick said. “I think they were ready to play in front of the big crowd and really fed off of it. Easily the best game we’ve played all year.”
Lakeview (2-7) used that energy early, opening the game with a 9-0 run. The Lady Vikings (7-5) rallied, however, tying the game at 11 at the end of the first quarter and closed out the first half with a 13-5 spurt for a 30-26 lead at the break.
The Lakeview defense in the second half was the difference. East Hall led 36-32 midway through the third quarter after a pair of Audrey Griffin free throws. The Lady Lions held the Lady Vikings to just 16 points over the final 11-plus minutes.
Lakeview took a 37-36 lead on a Joelle Snyder 3-pointer and pushed its lead to 44-37 on an Ashley Henderson trey to open the fourth quarter. East Hall never led again.
The Lady Vikings got as close as 44-41 on a Griffin 3-pointer and free throw but Lakeview hit 7-of-8 free throws over the final 43 seconds to seal the win, which also snapped a seven-game losing streak.
“Really, the biggest thing is that we hit some shots,” Carrick said. “Offense has been our main problem but tonight the girls made some. I’m just so proud of the girls because probably no one in the gym but them thought they could win this game.”
East Hall came in as the top defensive team in the field yielding just 35.1 points/game. Lakeview is the first team this season to score more than 52 on the Lady Vikings.
Snyder, who came in leading Hall County in scoring, paced Lakeview with 23 points. Henderson recorded a double-double with 12 points, 17 rebounds, and added 4 blocks, while Dynasty Putnam just missed out on a triple-double with 11 points, 8 in the second half, to go with 15 rebounds and 8 assists for the Lady Lions.
Griffin had a monster game for East Hall, pouring in 31 points, including 7 3-pointers. Maleah Harrison had 7 points for the Lady Vikings.
Lakeview will take on Flowery Branch in Wednesday’s semifinals at 3 p.m. at Gainesville High School.
East Hall will play fellow Region 8-4A foe Chestatee in the consolation bracket at 9 a.m. on Wednesday at Gainesville.
FLOWERY BRANCH 49,
Flowery Branch girls coach Courtney Newton said she could get used to this.
Senior Shaina Kriews poured in 33 points, including scoring the final 10 points, to lead the Lady Falcons to a tense victory over rival Chestatee in the first round.
“Shaina is just a competitor. She's going to do whatever is necessary to win,” Newton said. “Her offense is really starting to come together.
It was nearly a carbon copy of the two teams’ earlier Region 8-4A showdown, a 47-43 Lady Falcons win back on Dec. 10.
“We’re very similar teams that play really good defense. I expected this kind of game again,” Newton said.
It was a defensive slugfest the entire first half. Chestatee led just 7-4 after the first quarter on a 3-pointer from Sierra Yarbrough. The Lady Falcons used a 7-2 run to open the second quarter, capped by a 3-pointer from Kriews, and eventually took a 15-13 lead into the intermission.
The third quarter saw both offenses explode. Branch opened the period with an 11-1 run to run out to a 26-14 lead on the strength of forcing 7 Chestatee turnovers. But the Lady War Eagles answered with a 14-2 run to forge a tie at 28 late in the quarter.
The teams traded 3-pointers and then Branch took the lead for good on an Amiya Scott basket to spark a 6-0 run. Chestatee twice got within a point, the final time at 41-40 on a Riley Black basket with just under four minutes left. But the War Eagles managed just four free throws the rest of the way.
Chestatee was led by Black with 14 points. Bowen Corley added 10 and Riley Allison had 8 for the Lady War Eagles.
NORTH HALL 42,
CHEROKEE BLUFF 37
The Lady Trojans overcame an early 9-0 deficit to rally for the win in the opening game of the tournament.
Cherokee Bluff stormed out to start as Emilee Scott drained a long 3-pointer and Finley Millwood followed with a pair of treys in the opening 90 seconds to grab a quick lead.
But after a timeout from North Hall coach Kristi House, the Lady Trojans finally got going.
“(Bluff) came out really fast and we just talked about staying the course and regrouping,” House said. “I thought we played much better after the first minute.”
North Hall (7-5) answered with an 11-4 run to close out the first quarter to pull within 13-11. The Lady Trojans continued the run into the second quarter as Rylee Thompson hit a free throw to give them their first lead at 21-20 with 1:10 left in the half.
The Lady Bears, however, took a 22-21 lead into the half on a Millwood basket at the buzzer.
Scott hit another 3-pointer for Bluff to open the third quarter but five straight points by Rylee McCall gave North Hall a 26-25 lead to end a defensive period that saw just 8 total points scored.
A Timber Gaither four-point play reclaimed the lead at 29-28 for Bluff but North Hall’s Sarah Davidson provided the spark down the stretch. The junior poured in all 7 of her points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of free throws with just over four minutes left to give the Lady Trojans the lead for good.
Bluff (5-7) closed out the game hitting just two of its last 11 shots, including a wild fury in the final 30 seconds.
“Sarah really stepped up for us,” House said. “It’s all about matchups and we felt she could give us something.”
AB Gilleland paced North Hall with 8 points. McCall and Amelia Shoemaker each finished with 7, and Kristina Peach and Thompson both had 5 for the Lady Trojans.
Millwood had a game-high 14 points to lead Bluff. Gaither finished with 10 points and Scott had 9 for the Lady Bears.
North Hall will play the Gainesville-Johnson winner on Wednesday at Gainesville High School at 6 p.m. in the semifinals. Cherokee Bluff will play the Gainesville-Johnson loser in the consolation bracket at noon on Wednesday.
LANIERLAND TOURNAMENT, Dec. 28
(Girls 1st round scores)
North Hall 42, Cherokee Bluff 37
Flowery Branch 49, Chestatee 44
Lakeview Academy 58, East Hall 52
Gainesville 55, Johnson 30
LANIERLAND TOURNAMENT, Dec. 29
(at Gainesville High School)
Chestatee vs. East Hall (consolation), 9 a.m.
Cherokee Bluff vs. Johnson (consolation), noon
Flowery Branch vs. Lakeview Academy (semifinals), 3 p.m.
North Hall vs. Gainesville (semifinals), 6 p.m.