Saturday May 18th, 2024 12:49PM

Lanierland girls 1st round: GHS, NHall, Chestatee, Lakeview all roll into semifinals

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

OAKWOOD, Ga. — Mattie White scored 24 points, including 12 in a decisive third quarter, to lead Gainesville to a 66-21 win over Johnson on Wednesday in the first round of the Lanierland tournament.

White’s effort helped the Lady Red Elephants (2-6) shake off a sluggish first half.

The scrappy Lady Knights (3-9) stayed with Gainesville in the early minutes, trailing just 6-4 on a basket by Marijane See. But the Lady Red Elephants finally got going, using a 13-2 run into the second quarter, sparked by 6 points each from Maddie White and Jayiah Mintz.

Gainesville eventually pushed its lead to 28-12 late in the second quarter on a free throw from White.

After the third-quarter barrage, Gainesville had pushed its lead to 49-21. The Lady Red Elephants' defense also clamped down, holding the Lady Knights scoreless in the fourth quarter while the offense put the game away.

Gainesville showed its balance scoring. Jaylah Mintz had 13 points, Julia Payne 10, Kelsey Lester 8, and Addison Farmer had 7 for the Lady Red Elephants.

See and Destiny Ramirez both had 6 points to lead Johnson. Bianca Luc and Ana Garcia had 4 points each for the Lady Knights.

Gainesville moves on to play Lakeview Academy in Thursday’s semifinals at 6 p.m. at Lakeview Academy.

Johnson takes on Cherokee Bluff at noon in the consolation bracket.


Despite titles in 2019 and 2021 and a runner-up finish in 2022, North Hall has not been in many conversations about getting back to the championship game in the 2023 edition of the Lanierland tournament.

If Athena Vachtuevanos continues to go off as she did on Wednesday in a first-round against East Hall, some reconsideration could be in order.

The junior guard Athena Vachtuevanos exploded for 31 points on a variety of shots, including 6 3-pointers, as her 24 first-half points almost single-handedly outscored the Lady Vikings (28) in that span.

“Athena has really been stroking it lately. When she gets hot like that, she’s really hard to guard,” North Hall coach Eric Herrick said. “And I thought East Hall did a really good job denying her the ball.”

It was a similar game to the one the two teams played two weeks ago in an 18-point North Hall win. East Hall led that one early, only to see North Hall explode in the second quarter.

On Wednesday, the Lady Vikings (2-9) led 3-2 early on a stick-back from Maliyah Butler and 9-7 on a 3-pointer from Amari Burce. But North Hall (8-3) got treys from Carly Bowen and Athena Vachtuevanos to reclaim the lead 13-9.  Kaylana Curry hit a 3-pointer to give East Hall a 15-14 moments later, but that would be the Lady Vikings' last lead.

The Lady Trojans closed out the first quarter with an 8-2 run and opened the second with a 13-0 spurt for a 34-16 lead. East Hall would rally to trail just 38-28 at the half.

“We were playing sloppy and helping them get to the line with fouls. Once we cleaned that up, I thought we played pretty well,” Herrick said.

East Hall pulled within 38-31 on a 3-pointer from Haley Barton, but that’s as close as they would get. North Hall answered with a 13-0 run to push the lead to 51-31, and East Hall never recovered.

Braelyn McCall had 10 points and Bowen 9 for North Hall. Zara Gosse added 8 points for the Lady Trojans.

Curry finished with 20 points for East Hall, and Bruce added 16 for the Lady Vikings.

North Hall moves on to play Chestatee in Thursday’s 3 p.m. semifinal at Lakeview Academy. East Hall falls into the consolation bracket and will take Flowery Branch at 9 a.m.


Chestatee came into the 64th annual Lanierland among the favorites to win its first title since 2012.

The Lady War Eagles looked the part on Wednesday, routing the Lady Falcons in the first round.

Chestatee coach Sutton Shirley had little to complain about on how his group handled the high expectations.

“I thought they handled it pretty (darn) well today,” Shirley said. “I think the way we finished last season, having to win the region tournament and then all the close games into the playoffs. They’re not afraid of the moment.”

The Lady Falcons (4-6) hung tough early, taking a 4-2 lead on a Jayla Gudz basket. But Chestatee (8-2) used a 19-2 run over the final six minutes of the first quarter to run out to a 21-6 lead, with Riley Black scoring Chestatee’s first 11 points. The Lady War Eagles pushed their lead to 33-15 by halftime.

Chestatee blew it open in the third with an 18-9 burst, including a 14-0 run for a 51-19 lead. The Lady Falcons never recovered.

“We defended very well for large parts of the game and made some opportunities for our offense,” Shirley said. “We also didn’t make a lot of mistakes to give (Branch) easy chances. This is a game we definitely can build on.”

Black finished with 29 points to lead Chestatee. Caroline Bull and Payton Cable each had 10 points, and Jamya Weaver 8 points for the Lady War Eagles.

Gudz had 11 to pace Flowery Branch. Amiya Scott added 10 for the Lady Falcons.


If the purpose was for the rest of the Lanierland field to take notice, believe me, they noticed.

Lakeview Academy’s win over Cherokee Bluff in the opening round was far more shocking and dominating than the final score.

It will be the third semifinal appearance for the Lady Lions (10-0) in the past five years. The last two times they made the semifinals, they also advanced to the final.

Offensively, the Lady Lions' quickness produced more than a dozen assists, mostly to Taliah Gaither underneath, who poured in 28 points, 18 coming in a devastating first half. Defensively, a crushing full-court press led by Dynesty Putman, Taylor Clark, and Emory Combs forced a dozen first-half Bluff turnovers. They also held the Lady Bears without a field goal for 9:08 of the first half, turning a 6-point lead into a 36-14 advantage at the half.

Cherokee Bluff (9-2) would get within 10 in the final minute of the game against the Lakeview reserves but the Lady Lions maintained a 13 to 18 point lead most of the second half.

“We pride ourselves on defense, and the girls really bought into what we want to do,” Lakeview coach Ken Huffman said. “We have great scouts, and we made some adjustments. (On the offensive side) Taliah has been playing well all year, and we feel she is a matchup problem for most teams.”

Cherokee Bluff held an early 4-2 lead on a basket by Emma Reynolds. But Lakeview began to take control, using three turnovers to fuel a 13-3 run and then pushed its lead to 21-11 heading into the second quarter.

The second was the difference as the Lady Lions blew it open with a 15-3 run as Bluff leading scorer Clarire Carlson touched the ball just three times and was held scoreless in the half. Bluff’s top four scorers -- Carlson, Brooklyn Phillips, Reynolds, and Bristol Kersh -- had just 5 total points in the first half.

Putman finished with 14 points, 3 assists, and 4 steals, while Clark, a freshman, had 10 points, 4 assists, and 4 steals for Lakeview.

Kaitlin Cook led Bluff with 16 points, 12 coming in the second-half comeback. Kersh added 11 points, 8 in the second half, and Carlson had all 9 of her points after halftime.

Lakeview moves on to play the Gainesville-Johnson winner in Thursday’s semifinals at 6 p.m. Lakeview. Bluff will get the Gainesville-Johnson loser in the consolation bracket at noon.

OPENING ROUND SCORES, Wednesday, Dec. 27

GIRLS BRACKET (at West Hall)
Lakeview 63, Cherokee Bluff 52
Chestatee 62, Flowery Branch 36
North Hall 65, East Hall 51
Gainesville 66, Johnson 21

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Sports, High School Sports, Lanierland Tournament
  • Associated Tags: Chestatee girls basketball, Flowery Branch girls basketball, North Hall girls basketball, East Hall girls basketball, Lakeview girls basketball, Gainesville girls basketball, Lanierland, Johnson girls basketball, Cherokee Bluff girls basketball
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