GAINESVILLE, GA -- If there was a thread to pull to unravel the stitching of South Atlanta, it was putting the state's top player Derrick Favors on the bench with foul trouble.
East Hall found the thread and yanked early. Favors was on the bench for the majority of the game and when he played, he was limited because of the penalties. East Hall exploited that and came away with a big 63-60 win in the AAA state tournament.
The Vikings (23-6) plugged away and held off a flurry of runs from South Atlanta. East Hall head coach Joe Dix said he liked the way his team responded when they were on the ropes early on.
"The kids showed a lot of heart, guts and poise and they found a way to win," Dix said. "They hunt in there and found a way to win. That's what these kids do."
East Hall let South Atlanta stay in the game, making just one of 11 free throw attempts under five minutes to play. Senior Dedric Ware came up with a big block on a Quentin Trent three-point attempt with less than 10 seconds to play, which would have given the Hornets the lead and possible win.
Sophomore Joshten Hopkins came off the bench to hit four three-pointers and 14 points for East Hall.
South Atlanta opened the game up with a 14-2 run, sparked with a big two-handed reverse alley-oop dunk from Favors right out of the tip. Favors picked up his second foul at the 5:26 mark in the first quarter and East Hall responded with a run of its own, going 15-4 with Favors on the bench.
"We talked openly about [getting Favors] into foul trouble," Dix said. "We knew that they are a very different team without him in there."
That is an understatement, says South Atlanta's head coach Michael Reddick.
"The extra punch they had was Derrick sitting on the bench," Reddick said. "He changes the game in every way imaginable. Without him in there, we had to do things a lot differently."
Senior Ken Wise scored 10 of his team high 19 points in the first half and did his best work at the rim as Favors sat and watched.
South Atlanta, the No. 7 team in the state regardless of class in the Georgia Hoops Power Poll, finishes the year at 27-3. East Hall moves on to play the winner of the Cartersville-Stephens County game on Tuesday night.