The Chapel Hill basketball teams wrapped up the Carrollton Christmas Tournament on Monday at the University of West Georgia. The boys won their morning game over Clarkston of Atlanta, 53-43. The girls played an early afternoon game, beating Banneker, 46-31.

The Panther boys took a slim first quarter lead. Clarkston was able to keep the game close throughout but would never take the advantage. Chapel Hill led 18-12 after the first quarter, 23-18 at the half, and 31-27 after the third quarter. The Panthers were able to pull away early in the fourth quarter to close out the game.

“Clarkston was able to make a play here and there to keep the game close, and we were able to do the same to stay in the lead,” said CHHS coach Lee Wilson. “It sort of balanced out the first three quarters but in the fourth we were able to close the door.”

Efe Balfour led Chapel Hill with 17 points. Jarrett Jenkins followed with 14.

“Efe did a good job of scoring in every quarter. Clarkston had lack of size in the post and all of his points came down low. They tried to double team him later but he was able to make a couple of dunks in the fourth quarter,” Wilson said. “Jarrett stepped up for us. Earlier in the season he had a slow start on the defensive end. He is now playing varsity level defense and we are able to keep him in the game longer. There was never any doubt to us about his offense, just his defense.”

Reece Anderson added eight points. Dallas Jacks, Brandon Peterson and Jalen Cooper rotated in at guard to keep Clarkston’s bester player in check all night.

“Their offense ran through their point guard and we were able to keep our guards fresh and they denied him the ball in the second half,” Wilson said.

The Panthers finished the holiday tournament with a 1-2 record.

“For the first two games we never got off the bus. We played like a team that was tired and ready for a break,” Wilson said. “I think having Sunday off and coming back on Monday worked in our favor. I would have liked to do better, and we were capable of winning all three, but the tourney ended on a good note and that is big for us.”

Chapel Hill currently has a 3-3 record in region play. They suffered a pair of tough losses to Paulding and East Paulding during the first half of the season.

“Record wise we could be in a stronger position” Wilson said. “We will take it one game at a time. The region is all about who gets hot at the right time and we will try to win as many games as we can to get the best seeding possible for the region tournament. “The first half was not a great start, but it was not a bad start either. We have room for improvement.”

The Lady Panthers defeated Benneker at West Georgia in an early afternoon game. Chapel Hill was tied after the first quarter, but a 10-3 second quarter put the Lady Panthers up for good. They outscored Benneker, 14-12 in the third quarter, and 11-5 in the fourth.

“We started out well with the proper intensity going in,” said CHHS coach Scott Long. “We took advantage of some things Banneker tried to do, protected the ball and attacked them on their outside and mid court game. They had a real strong inside presence that posed a problem, but we adjusted.”

Shekinah Howard led Chapel Hill with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Alexia Wallace followed with 12 points, six rebounds, one steal and four blocks. Alex Weens struggle on offense, but made up for it on the defensive end with six rebounds. Jazmine Lawrence grabbed eight boards as she continues to improve after a lengthy knee injury.

“Overall it is always good to get a win, and getting two wins in the Christmas tournament, that’s a positive. Being a young team, we grew up a lot throughout the tournament.”

The Lady Panthers ended the first half of the year with a 5-1 region record.

“We started a little slow because we are a young team and were trying to find an identity,” Long said. “We had several people out with injuries though the first half and we are finally starting to get everyone back. We still have a ways to go but I like the direction we are going.”

The Panthers and Lady Panthers will start the second half of the season on Jan. 6 when they travel to Allatoona for a pair of region games.

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