After a dominating senior season on the football field, Gainesville’s Jay Gaudlock seems to have found his form on the basketball court.
Despite joining the Red Elephants just a few weeks ago after a three-year absence from competitive basketball, Gaudlock scored a team-high 14 points on Friday to lead Gainesville to a 73-57 win over North Hall in the consolation bracket of the Big Red Shootout at Gainesville High School.
“It has been a while (since I last played),” Gaudlock said. “But I’m just enjoying coming and helping my team out to get this win.”
After losing to Johnson in the second round of last week’s Lanierland tournament, the Red Elephants (4-6) were left trying to find an identity. The team is still trying to gel on the court under new coach Benjie Wood, who spent the previous seven seasons at North Hall.
Gaudlock’s performance on Friday was just another example of players continuing to find their roles on the team.
“It’s a process,” said Wood, who guided the Trojans to a pair of state semfinal appearances, including last season.
“We were at North Hall for seven years and it didn’t happen overnight. And it isn’t going to happen overnight here. I saw some good things today and I’m proud of our kids.”
Gaudlock scored eight of his 14 points in the fourth quarter to help the Red Elephants hold off the Trojans, who managed to narrow the gap after being down 21 points midway through the third quarter.
Gainesville used a stifling defense early in the game to build a comfortable lead over North Hall. Luke Maddox led the Big Red with six points in the first quarter, helping them build a 20-8 lead, while forcing nine Trojan turnovers and holding North Hall without a basket for the first three minutes of the game.
Gainesville continued its tough full-court pressure into the second quarter, building a 35-17 halftime advantgae. From there, the Red Elephants were able to establish their largest lead of the game, 44-23, early in the third quarter.
But, North Hall put together its best run of the game, outscoring Gainesville 11-1 to bring the score back within 11 points, 45-34.
North Hall’s ability to fight back was yet another learning curve for the Red Elephants.
“What we have to learn to do is (play) consistently. We are just having too many lapses, which cost us in big games,” Wood said. “But the guys are getting better and we are going to keep working at it.”
Gainesville, though, was able to recover. Gaudlock and Ithello Cross managed to help the Red Elephants re-extend their lead to as many as 18 points late in the fourth quarter.
Eleven different players scored from the field for Gainesville, led by Gaudlock’s 14 points. Cross finished with 12 points, while Maddox finished with nine, despite not playing the majority of the second half.
For North Hall, Carson Heinen scored a game-high 21 points, accounting for 10 of the Trojans’ 17 first-half points. When Heinen fell off late in the game, Brock Wingo stepped up and scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter. Harrison Lovell finished with seven points and a game-high nine rebounds for the Trojans.
Wood shook hands with all five of North Hall starters before the game and spoke about his close bond with the Trojans following the win.
“Everybody that’s on that team — (Coach) Tyler Sanders is like my little brother — they’re very special to me,” said Wood, who seemed to fight back some emotion.
“I’m really proud of them. We really love each other so much that it was a little bit awkward. I’m just so proud of those kids; they played their tails off.”