Friday night was a true road test for both the boys and girls teams out of Chapel Hill High School as the girls tried to continue their winning streak and the boys looked to bounce back from a heartbreaker in overtime.
The Panthers and Lady Panthers traveled to East Paulding t0 face the Lady Raiders and the Raiders. The Chapel Hill girls pulled away late with solid defense and an all-around game by Alexia Wallace, winning 48-41. The Panther boys, despite a pretty hard fought comeback in the making, fell a bit short, losing 58-55.
The Lithia girls, led by Wallace’s 14 points, started off a little cold. The team only managed seven points in the first quarter. The second quarter opened up with Chapel Hill tightening up their press defense and forcing turnovers by the opposing Lady Raiders, The quarter was highlighted by a steal by Shekinah Howard that lead to a reverse layup, which then sparked a 7-0 Lady Panthers run. The run was capped off by Wallace with a nice no-look pass to Alex Weems. The score put Chapel Hill up for the first time in the game. The Lady Raiders were forced to call a timeout and try to cool off the momentum when Chapel Hill was able to stretch the lead to six late in the second.
Chapel Hill controlled possession for most of the second half, but East Paulding was able to slowly creep back in late in the fourth quarter. A jumper from the baseline by Lady Raider Sonny Smith cut the lead to four, but it was as close as they got to the Chapel Hill lead. A 3-pointer followed by a layup on consecutive possessions by Howard, iced the game for the Lady Panthers.
Jefferson led the scoring for the Lady Raiders with 16 points. She scored seven in the fourth that almost allowed a comeback.
The long range shot led to Chapel Hill;s demise in the boys game. East Paulding connected with eight overall. The game started off with two consecutive shots from long range by Raiders guard Jalen Browder. Ryan Armistead was also able to connect on a 3-pointer in the first quarter, but six points by the Panthers Efe Balfour kept the contest tight.
After a pretty even second quarter, Chapel Hill led 25-24 at halftime. The Panthers were able to grab the lead by playing tough defense and forcing turnovers.
The second half opened up with both teams starting off hot and trading buckets, but a 3-pointer by three different Raider on consecutive possessions, gave East Paulding the upper hand. Those buckets gave the Raiders a 44-35 lead at the end of the third quarter. D.J. Wakefield led the scoring for the East Paulding in the third.
The Panthers mounted a valiant comeback effort in the fourth quarter, highlighted by 12 points by Balfour. He connected with Reece Anderson on an ally-oop. The scoring play was started by Balfour stealing the inbound pass. Despite the comeback bid, it came too late as East Paulding’s Leonard Browder closed the game with 11 points in the final quarter.
Balfour led Chapel Hill in scoring with 21 points. Browder scored a team high 18 for East Paulding.