The Gainesville boys basketball team took South Forsyth all the way down to the wire Friday evening — twice.
But after forcing overtime with a pair of clutch Jimmie Jackson free throws near the end of regulation, the Red Elephants could not finish the game off in the extra period, falling 73-70 against the visiting War Eagles.
After the game, Gainesville head coach Chuck Graham opted for an optimistic outlook on the narrow defeat.
“Every time we lose a game, it’s a learning experience, and that’s how we treat it,” he said. “We’ll take this, digest it, and we’ll be better prepared the next time we play.”
Robert Reisman scored 22 to lead the way for the Red Elephants (10-6, 2-2 Region 6-7A), including all 8 of the team’s points in overtime.
The contest was a back-and-forth affair from the start, beginning with an electrifying first quarter that included five lead changes and never saw either team go up by more than 5 points. Ced Nicely’s layup to finish the frame off made it a 1-point game at 22-21 in favor of South Forsyth eight minutes in.
The second quarter was equally as tightly contested, with neither side scoring more than 4 unanswered points for the entire period. Reisman hit a late 3, then an even later layup to tie things up at 33 going into halftime.
A pair of Ethan Underwood 3-pointers late in the third quarter helped the War Eagles open up a 4-point lead going into the fourth, but Gainesville came up clutch in the waning moments of regulation.
Trailing by 4 with less than 20 seconds to play, the Red Elephants made four straight shots at the charity stripe, two coming from Nicely and the other two from Jackson with only 3 seconds left to play.
But Gainesville cooled off in the overtime period, managing just two points in the first three minutes of extra time to put itself in a 5-point hole with a minute left to play.
A Reisman layup with 8 seconds left gave the Red Elephants a chance to shoot a 3-pointer and get the game to a second overtime, but Eli Pitts’ deep attempt at the buzzer rimmed out and iced the game for South Forsyth.
Up next, Gainesville will play North Forsyth next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
SOUTH FORSYTH GIRLS 52, GAINESVILLE 48 (2OT): Overtime was the name of the game in Gainesville’s Alumni Gym Friday night, as the girls team also fell to South Forsyth in extra time, though the visiting Lady War Eagles needed two added periods to down the Lady Red Elephants (9-6, 0-4 Region 6-7A).
“The kids played hard as heck for 40 minutes tonight and fought and battled and scrapped,” Gainesville coach Alan Griffin said after the game. “I’m proud of those kids. They’ve really kind of broken through the top a little bit. They know how good they are and how good they can be. They’re playing every game to win right now, which is exciting.”
Lauren Teasley had 13 points and a pair of emphatic blocks for the Lady Red Elephants, but the effort was not enough to lift host Gainesville to the win.
The teams battled back and forth in a relatively even first half that saw the Lady War Eagles take a narrow lead early on and maintain that advantage for much of the opening two quarters.
Zaria Williams scored 6 points for the Lady Red Elephants in the first frame, but an 11-2 run through the middle of the period kept South Forsyth ahead on the scoreboard. Gainesville scored the last 5 points of the quarter to draw to within 2 points of the lead eight minutes in.
The second quarter was even more tightly contested, but each time the Lady Red Elephants drew closer to even with South Forsyth, the Lady War Eagles would push slightly ahead back into the lead.
Gainesville tied the game once in the second period and got the deficit to just 1 point on two other occasions, but could never reclaim it. A late layup from South Forsyth’s Maggie Thompson got the lead back up to 3 points at halftime.
Teasley scored 6 of her 13 points in the third quarter to help tie things up at 26-all with eight minutes left to go, and the teams stayed knotted up throughout the fourth as well, ultimately getting to 40-40 at the end of regulation.
A clutch 3 from Sadie Roach helped keep the Lady Red Elephants even through the first overtime period, but Gainesville scored just 1 point in the second one, and could not finish off the win.