After a couple of near misses to start the season, the Banks County Lady Leopards can check off win No. 1 in 2019.
The Lady Leopards staved off second-and third-quarter runs to pick up a 46-31 road win at East Hall.
Head coach Steven Shedd said he told his team after the game it is "nice to get the monkey off our back."
"It definitely feels good," Shedd said to get the first win. He hopes the win will help build momentum after the Thanksgiving break for his group.
Heather Vaughan led the team with 11 points. Sadie Simpson added nine points, while Jenna Reeves contributed seven points.
Banks County (1-3) led 18-6 after the first quarter. But a poor second and third quarter saw the Lady Leopards score only 13 points and allowed East Hall to stay in the game.
The Lady Vikings even took the lead on a 3-pointer to start the second half. But Vaughan responded with a 3-pointer of her own to put Banks County ahead for good. The two 3-pointers were the only lead changes of the game.
"Right now, that's a little bit of our achilles heel in every game we've played so far is we've come out and had one bad quarter, at least," Shedd said. "I think that's what has hurt us ... It was nice today. East Hall made a run in the second quarter, but I thought we pulled it back together in the third and fourth."
Shedd said his team played "outstanding" defense to hold East Hall to 31 points.
"The defense was spot on," Shedd said. "Offensively, we just missed too many under the basket. I felt like we should've dominated that game under the basket, and we did as far as creating opportunities. Just not finishing up underneath there.
"I thought that hurt us a pretty good bit. But the girls showed some poise and showed they were capable of closing this one out. I was proud of them."
The Lady Leopards' defense held East Hall to 10 points in the second half. Banks County's offense was an even split in the first and second halves, scoring 23 points apiece.
In the fourth quarter, Banks County tightened the screws on East Hall, allowing only four points. The offense, though, found a rhythm and put up 15 points to close the game out.
Vaughan scored five-straight points to start the final frame, and the Lady Leopards went on a 13-0 run. Ayers scored the final six points of the game, all of which came at the free-throw line.
"I think our team is really battle tested up to this point," Shedd said. "... I think today is a momentum builder for us. I hope we can carry this forward."
One thing Shedd is happy to see during the early stretch of the season is scoring distribution.
"It's encouraging, because this summer the concern was 'where's our scoring going to come from?'" Shedd said. "We lost some good talent, a lot of scoring has moved on. I feel like it's going to continue to develop as the year goes on and the more experience these girls get and the more court time.
"I feel like we're going to get better and better."
The combined record of the Lady Leopards' opponents going into the East Hall game was 12-0.
"We've faced some tough challenges ... I think that's going to hopefully help us later on when we get to the region," Shedd said.
On Friday (Nov. 22), the Lady Leopards fell to Lumpkin County 53-44.
Banks County led 37-28 after three quarters. But the Lady Indians rallied in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Lady Leopards 25-7 to win by nine points.
The Lady Leopards return to the court Dec. 6 at Stephens County.