Lauren Swanson led North Hall in the win over Morgan County on Tuesday with 15 points and six rebounds.
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GAINESVILLE — The North Hall girls are becoming goal busters.
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The Lady Trojans (22-8, Region 7-3A No. 1 seed)checked off goal No. 4 on Tuesday night at Lynn Cottrell Court — a trip of the Class 3A semifinals — with a dominating 57-41 win over Morgan County (15-15, Region 8-3A No. 2 seed)in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A tournament.
It's the third trip to the state's Final Four in the program's history, and the second in the last six years.
“We are just so excited,” North Hall coach Kristi House said. “The party is still going on at North Hall … people don't want to leave and people want to celebrate this team. There have just been so many people pouring into our team.”
Just as they've done all year, the Lady Trojans played team ball. The defense was good, but the effort was all out.
“We were really happy that we came out strong,” House said. “We kind of talk to the kids and said, 'you're ready. There's nothing else that we can tell you guys, but you've got to be mentally focused and come out ready to play, and I felt like they did.”
The proof is in the stat book with four Lady Trojans in double-figures — all seniors — and key play from the underclassmen that pushed them to a double-digit lead most of the night.
And on a night when the opponent tried to shut down outside threat Grace Hollifield, the team, as they've done all season, stepped up to take the load. Oh, and Morgan County didn't quite shutdown Hollifield. She finished with a double-double, 11 points and 13 rebounds.
“If people try to take somebody like Grace away, great player, scores tons of points,I just feel like we have so many other people that can do … we're OK with that and Grace is OK with that. She's such a great teammate; she doesn't care who scores as long as we do.”
Lauren Swanson poured in 15 points and six rebounds, while Maci Gillespie had 13 and Ansley Smallwood had 12.
Swanson connected on two 3-pointers in the first quarter, including one with 3:52 to go that extended the Lady Trojans' advantage, 13-5. She also sparked North Hall in the first 30 seconds of the second half, scoring four straight points.
Gillespie finished the first half on a4-0 run and was too quick for the Lady Bulldogs all night.
And Smallwood's play inside and out helped North Hall take its largest lead of the first half, at the time, 26-14 with 4:29 to go in the second quarter when she nailed a 3-pointer from the right side of the floor.
“The big shots she hit and the boxing out and rebounding,” House said about Smallwood. “She's running things on defenseand triesto get everybody where they're supposed to be. So, I'm super proud of her to have a great offensive night.”
The Lady Bulldogs couldn't get any closer than 11 points in the second half.
North Hall will play the winner of the Beach in the semifinals will be on Saturday, Feb. 29 at Valdosta State. Game time is set for 2 p.m.
“We're going to let these kids have some cool experiences,” House said. “We're going to enjoy this moment and the time we have left together with this te