As long as the defensive intensity is there, Gainesville boys basketball coach Benjie Wood is certainly fine with adding a little bit of pizzazz to the other side of the ball.
And a perfectly timed alley-oop from Kajuan Hale to Jared Rosser in Tuesday’s game with Region 8-AAAAAA Appalache kickstarted what was another explosive night for the Red Elephants in a 79-53 win at home.
Gainesville (17-1, 4-0 Region 8-AAAAAA) complimented their suffocating press with two-handed jams, two from Jared Rosser — who scored a team-high 16 points — as well as his brother Jarrel Rosser (seven points) and KJ Buffen (15 points) while in transition.
Xavier Bledson (six points, seven rebounds) dished a team-high five assists, while Michael White knocked down a team-high three treys as part of his 11-point showing for the Red Elephants.
Despite a chippy first half which saw both squads combine for 31 personal fouls, Gainesville found its groove midway through the second period and eventually carried a 20-point lead into the half.
“We really tried to make an emphasis as to not retaliate,” Wood said of the slow start. “We can only control what we do, and we want to make sure we play the game the right way. I thought our kids did a good job of that.”
Rosser and Hale’s connection, as well as another two-handed dunk by Jarrel Rosser were exclamation points during a 13-5 run which stretched the Red Elephants’ lead to 21 with 5:19 left in the half. Steals by Brent Kelly and Jarrel Rosser aided the surge.
The Red Elephants went on to hold all but one of the Wildcats to the single digits, Brandon Burnis leading Apalachee with 12 points in the end.
“When we finally started playing defensively like we’re capable of, we were able to get out in transition. We’ve got some guys who can fill up the highlight film. But if they’re playing defense, we’re OK with that,” smiled Wood.
A 3-pointer by Ethan Morris brought the Wildcats within two of the hosts minutes into the game before the Red Elephants closed out the opening period on a 13-2 spurt.
Gainesville will host fellow Region 8-AAAAAA frontrunner Dacula 7:30 p.m. Friday.
GAINESVILLE GIRLS 53, APALACHEE GIRLS 31: Taylor Hawks (three assists) scored nine of her 13 team-high points in the first quarter, and the Lady Red Elephants (11-5, 3-1 Region 8-AAAAAA) cruised to their third region win at home.
The Red Elephants never trailed, leading by 16 at the half and by as much as 20 in the second half.
Mikeisha Battle added 11 points behind Hawks, followed by Jada Harrison (four rebounds) with seven.
Apalachee's Nakia Hooks notched a double-double 15 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Lady Wildcats.