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Boys Athlete of the Week: Gainesville's Shaquan Cantrell
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Basketball

A.J. Davis, Buford: Had 21 points against Savannah High in state semifinals.

Ebo Smith, North Hall: Had 26 points against in state quarterfinals against St. Pius X, and 21 against Johnson-Savannah in semifinals.

Baseball

Dakota Chalmers, Lakeview Academy: Struck out 11 batters in an 8-0 win over Chestatee.

Chase Dunlap, Jackson County: Pitched 1 1/3 innings with a strikeout for the win, and finished 3 for 4 with a double, four runs scored and a pair of RBIs against Central Gwinnett.

Colton Duttweiler, North Hall: Pitched a four-hit, eight-strikeout, complete-game shutout, and added two hits and an RBI in a win against Chestatee.

Andrew Fogarty, Jackson County: Finished 3 for 3 with two doubles, two runs scored and four RBIs in a win over Central Gwinnett.

Michael Gettys, Gainesville: Pitched a five-inning no-hitter with six strikeouts and one walk against Habersham Central, and went 2 for 4 with two RBIs against Archer.

Asher Griffith, Johnson: Pitched seven complete innings with five strikeouts and allowed only one earned run and three hits in a win over West Hall.

Jonathan Hughes, Flowery Branch: Went 2 for 4 with four RBIs in a win over Franklin County.

Drew Miles, Flowery Branch: Had five RBIs and finished 3 for 3 at the plate in a win over Franklin County.

Brandt Rineheart, Habersham Central: Hit a solo home run and a single in a win over Cedar Shoals.

Ryan Smith, Habersham Central: Pitched 5 2/3 innings for a win against Cedar Shoals, allowing two hits and no earned runs.

Caleb Whitenton, Gainesville: Went 2 for 2 with a walk and six RBIs in a win over Habersham Central.

Soccer

Fabian Abarca, Johnson: Scored three goals in a win over Eastside.

Josh Aguilar, Gainesville: recorded a shutout in goal with six saves in a win over North Oconee.

Chance Calderhead, Lakeview Academy: Had a goal and two assists in a win over White County.

Ricardo Gomez, Gainesville: Had two goals and an assist in a win against North Oconee.

Alan Morales, Johnson: recorded the shutout in goal with four saves against Eastside.

Compiled by Zac Taylor

Gainesville’s leading scorer is anything but a ball hog.

Senior Shaquan Cantrell doesn’t mind passing the ball off for the winning shot, or floating around the perimeter while another player drives the lane. He just likes to see the wins keep piling up. And the wins have come in bunches for the finals-bound Red Elephants (23-9), who now stand just one more win away from a state championship.

“Obviously he’s a big part of our team, he’s our leading scorer and one of our leading rebounders,” Gainesville coach Todd Cottrell said. “But what a lot of people don’t realize is he’s a great team player.

“The biggest thing with him and all of our seniors, is they just want to be succesful.”

Cantrell played his role expertly in the last two games, scoring 19 points in the 60-58 quarterfinals win over New Manchester on Wednesday and 17 in the 63-62, last-second win in the semifinals against Effingham County on Saturday. For his efforts, Cantrell is The Times Boys Athlete of the Week.

Gainesville will play four-time defending state champions Miller Grove at 8:45 p.m. Friday at the Macon Centreplex.

Cantrell had never been past the first round of the state tournament until this season, but he and his teammates have made the most of the opportunity, winning all four state tournament games by three points or less.

And the 6-foot-4 senior has played a vital role during this season’s succesful run.

“I have to be a leader on and off the court, and in the weight room,” he said. “My role is to make plays.”

He’s been making them for years now.

Cantrell started playing basketball at the age of 7, and has been playing with many of his teammates since middle school. But he said it wasn’t until his sophomore year of high school that he really started to focus on the game.

It was then that the Gainesville coaches moved him from a post to a perimeter player, due both to the abundance of talent at the position returning — including now Tennessee football player A.J. Johnson — and the fact that Cantrell wanted to play in college, where his size neccesitated he wouldn’t be able to stay in the post.

Cantrell embraced the change.

“He’s really developed, and his skills have improved,” Cottrell said. “And he’s really worked on it.”

Cantrell handled the change well. He averaged 10 points and five rebounds as a sophomore, 18 and seven last season, and has averaged around 20 points scoring per game this season and is one of the team’s leading rebounders, according to his coach.

“Honestly I think it was pretty easy (to transition),” Cantrell said. “I’m a gym rat; I’m always messing with my game.”

He said the aspects of his game that needed the most improving after the transition were his jump shot and ball-handling, skills he said he feels pretty good about three years later.

“Me only being a perimeter player for three years, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good skill set,” he said. “But I know I have to keep working — I can’t be satistifed.”

His history with playing the post has its benefits as well.

Cantrell said he’ll take advantage of his size by backing a smaller guard into the paint if he gets the matchup, using some of the skills he learned from watching Johnson, who graduated in 2011 and is now a starting linebacker for the Volunteers.

“I just try to have an all-around game,” he said. “It keeps the defense off balance.”

Just like Gainesville’s opponents have been kept off balance when the Red Elephants’ leading scorer passes to a better-positioned player for the winning shot, or dives into the lane to snare a key rebound.

And while Cantrell, a North Georgia University signee, has already had just about as good of a final high school season has he could imagine, he can still see at least one way to make it better.

“It could end better if we win on Friday night,” he said, “holding the trophy in Macon.”

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