After an unexpected week off, the White County Warriors got back on the court Tuesday for a 7-AAA showdown with North Hall.
The Warriors (5-4) survived a sluggish first half and grabbed control of the game in the third quarter on the way to a 65-54 win to stay at the top of the region leaderboard with a 2-0 mark.
The Warriors had a few extra days off after Gilmer County had to cancel last Friday night's games due to Covid-19 issues.
The Warriors will be back on the court next Monday with a trip to Cherokee Bluff for an important region matchup, and then will play Gilmer County in a rescheduled game on Tuesday, Dec. 22, in Cleveland, before hitting the Christmas break.
“Any region win is a huge win, especially at home,” WCHS head coach Robbie Bailey said. “North Hall is a big rival, so that made it huge too.”
After trailing 28-27 at the half thanks to some shooting woes, the Warriors got the offense going in the third quarter. Kenny Simpson canned a 3-pointer in the opening minute of the third quarter, and Jimmy King scored in the paint off a pass from Cooper Turner to give the Warriors a 33-32 lead.
King's basket started a 11-0 run over the next four minutes that gave the Warriors a 41-32 lead. Jadon Yeh had two baskets and a free throw, and Reece Dockery and Silas Mulligan each scored during the run. North Hall's Robert Terry ended the Warriors' run with a 3-pointer at the end of the quarter, cutting the lead to 42-35.
North Hall hit a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter, but Turner canned two free throws to push the lead back to 44-38 with 7:48 left in the game.
North Hall's Cole Ellis canned a 3-pointer to make it 44-41, but Mulligan scored in transition off a pass from Yeh, and Dockery scored off a drive to make it 48-41. Riley Egerton followed with another drive from the left wing, scoring in traffic for a 50-41 lead with 4:45 left in the quarter.
After a pair of free throws from North Hall, King scored down low off an assist from Mulligan, and Mulligan canned a free throw for a 53-42 lead with 3:17 left on the clock.
Yeh found Egerton in transition for a layup as the lead grew to 55-42.
The Warriors' defense, which was solid most of the night, came up with a turnover off an inbounds play, and Yeh found Mulligan in transition for a layup to finish off a 13-1 run, giving the Warriors a 57-42 lead.
North Hall cut the lead to single digits in the final 60 seconds of the the game, but Yeh canned six free throws to ice the game for the Warriors.
"Basketball is a game of runs, and we were able to finish them with a couple of runs in the second half," Bailey said. "We made some adjustments at halftime, and started hitting some shots. We're really pleased with their effort and excited to be 2-0 in the region."
In the opening quarter, the Warriors struggled offensively, missing numerous shots in the paint as North Hall grabbed a 15-9 lead.
"We've been starting strong early in the season, but we struggled shooting tonight," Bailey said. "We haven't played in a week. and this team has only practiced four times with everybody here. I thought we played well defensively in the first half, but we just couldn't hit a shot."
The Warriors started the second quarter with a 14-2 run to take the lead. Mulligan hit a 3-pointer and Turner had a 3-point play in the opening two minutes of the quarter as the Warriors cut the deficit to 17-15. Yeh tied things up with a layup in transition, and Turner scored in the low post for a 19-17 lead. Turner came up with a steal on the Trojan's next possession, and found Yeh in transition to push the lead to 21-17, and Yeh and King teamed up for the final basket of the run, with King scoring at the rim for a 23-17 with 2:53 left in the half.
North Hall scored the next four points to cut the lead down to 23-21, but Mulligan knocked down his second 3-pointer of the game, and Simpson added a free throw 20 seconds later for a 27-21lead with 1:06 left in the quarter.
North Hall closed out the first half with a 7-0 run to grab the halftime lead. Sam Gailey had a 3-pointer, Elijah Gaddy scored off an offensive rebound, and Clark Howell finished off the half, scoring off a layup in the final three seconds to send his team to the locker room with a one-pont lead.
Yeh finished the game with 21 points, and connected on 7-of-8 free throw attempts, while Mulligan had 13 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Turner had eight points, including hitting 4-of-5 free throws, while Simpson scored seven points, Dockery and King each had six points, and Egerton scored four points.
Howell had 13 points for North Hall, Ellis connected on four 3-pointers for 12 points, and Terry scored 11.