TRENTON, Ga. -- Glen Hicks knew it would take a combination of hard work and good fortune for his basketball team to survive the first round of the Georgia Class AA playoffs Saturday night.
The first was a given, but the second didn't go so well as East Hall, led by senior C.H. Hampton's career-high 40 points, eliminated Hicks' Dade County squad, 90-73.
Hampton's lights-out night, which included five 3-pointers, and a cold shooting night for the Wolverines were too much to overcome.
"We haven't shot the ball real well the last two or three weeks, but they're good," Hicks said of the 22-7 Vikings, who were upset in the semifinals of the Region 8 tournament. "I thought we were better at every position except for No. 22 (Hampton). He's a D-1 player and you can't lose him in transition.
"They are the best team in that region by far. There are nine or 10 teams in the state that can win the championship each year, and annually East Hall is one of them."
Hampton, a 6-foot senior guard headed to Lipscomb University next year, keyed the game's two key runs for the Vikings. He scored eight consecutive points to extend a three-point lead to 12 at the 5:30 mark of the second period, and then after a Ben Williams layup early in the third period cut the East Hall lead to 46-35, Hampton nailed a 3-pointer and added two free throws to start a killing 12-1 run in a little over a minute that pushed the lead to 22.
"I just like big games," said Hampton, trying to explain his big night. "We knew from watching film and how they pressure that we were going to get good looks. We were heartbroken from the loss last week, but it also made us very motivated for this game. We love to run, so we knew we matched up with them well."
The Wolverines (22-7) didn't go down without one last surge, opening the final period with a 13-2 run to cut the lead to 15. Hampton, however, hit a runner in the lane before a three-point play pushed the lead back to 20 with 4:38 to play.
"I'm so proud of these kids," Hicks said. "That's one thing we try to preach to them. We don't quit. They may have not been the most talented team Dade County has ever put on the floor, but they're great young men with huge hearts."
Hampton added seven rebounds and five steals, with Hayden Champan getting 16 points for East Hall. Williams led Dade with 22 points and 12 rebounds, with Cole Birchfield adding 19 points and Josh Green 14.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...