KENNESAW - It's been the story of Gainesville's season, and especially so in the playoffs: razor-thin margins for error, a different hero seemingly every night, and most importantly, an awful lot of wins.
In high school basketball, a stellar regular season doesn't mean much if it's not backed up by strong play at the year's end. By the same token, a disappointing two-plus months can be all but wiped off the books by just a couple of wins when region tournaments roll around.
It wasn't always picture-perfect basketball, but for a Gainesville team still trying to find its footing after a slow start, it was a win. And it's hard to find faults in a win, especially when it comes over a traditional rival.
2012 was a banner year for Gainesville High School athletics. The golf teams swept the state titles in May, both soccer teams and the baseball team advanced to at least the state semifinals, and just before the calendar turned over, the Red Elephants brought home the first football state championship in school history.
If there was any doubt about how much the Lanierland Tournament means to basketball teams in Hall County, one needed only see the faces of the winners Saturday night to know that it still means - even in its 53rd year - a lot.
To his friends, family, coaches and teammates, Adam Smith was a special young man. That's why they've planned a special tribute to celebrate his memory when the Buford boys basketball team plays its home opener Friday against Banks County.
One team is back in the state championship game for the first time in 35 years. One team frequently plays deep into the playoffs but has yet to bring home the elusive title. And one team is in the Georgia Dome so often it has the feel of a second home.
December 11, 2012|
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