With Friday’s big subregion game against No. 3 Monroe Area only days away, Gainesville boys coach Todd Cottrell was comforted by the way his team finished out its non-region game against Class AAA’s fourth-ranked Carrollton in Monday’s MLK Tribute in Gainesville.
After a rough third quarter where the Red Elephants (10-6) were outscored 25-7, they closed strong in the final minutes before falling short in a 67-60 victory for Carrollton.
“Our team isn’t going to give up,” Red Elephants coach Todd Cottrell said. “The first half and about the final three or four minutes we played really well, but in between we played about as bad as we could.”
In the girls game, Rebecca Webster closed out her 24-point, nine-rebound effort with 17 second-half points in a 56-48 win against the 10th-ranked Lady Trojans.
Gainesville’s boys drew to within five points late in the game on a layup from Tray Harrison with only 1:02 left to play.
Then on Carrollton’s next possession, Harrison drew a charge and the Red Elephants took back possession. After trailing by as much as 10 early in the fourth, Gainesville closed to within 64-60 Carrollton after Javez Warren hit a pair of free throws with 17 seconds remaining in the game.
However, Trojans senior guard Josh Barge sealed the win with a pair of free throws the next trip down the court.
Everything Carrollton did in the second half went through Josh Barge, who finished with 16 points in the third quarter alone and a game-high 34 points. His identical twin brother A.J. finished with 12 points.
“The Barge brothers are fantastic athletes,” Cottrell said. “We knew that coming into this game.”
Despite leading 31-23 at halftime, the Gainesville boys were saddled with turnovers and poor rebounding in the third quarter as Carrollton (10-4) went on a 10-0 run. Josh Barge hit a pair of 3-pointers during the scoring spurt, along with a pair of open layups from A.J. Barge.
“Josh is doing a great job for us scoring,” Carrollton coach Tim Criswell said. “We were creating shots in the open court with Gainesville pressing us.”
On the final play of the third quarter, Josh Barge dribbled past one defender at the top of the key, then past another in the paint for a layup as the final seconds of the period drained off the clock.
In the fourth quarter, Gainesville managed to get back in sync offensively, but couldn’t keep the Trojans from scoring on their end. After Gainesville’s Quon Holcomb hit a 3-pointer with 3:05 left in the game, Carrollton’s Carlos Hutton matched it with a 3-pointer of his own. Likewise, after Josh Barge scored on an offensive rebound, Gainesville answered on a one-handed dunk from senior A.J. Johnson.
In the first half, it was Gainesville’s defense that set the tone. After grabbing a loose ball on Carrollton’s end, Johnson scored on an assist from Holcomb just before halftime to go up by six.
Shaquan Cantrell led Gainesville with 14 points and Holcomb added 11.
Gainesville visits Monroe Area (14-1) at 8:30 p.m. on Friday.
GAINESVILLE GIRLS 56, CARROLLTON 48: For the third time this season, the Lady Red Elephants (9-8) knocked off a team ranked in the top 10. East Hall and Franklin County were also both ranked in the state poll at the time of Gainesville’s victory.
Gainesville’s Mikalyn DeFoor set the tone for the game with four 3-pointers in the first half. She also knocked down 5 of 6 free throws as part of a 20-point effort.
With Gainesville’s lead down to 1 point with 1:50 left to play, DeFoor hit her final 3-pointer of the night, followed by four straight free throws over the next 1:08 to secure victory.
Carrollton’s Raven Trammell also shot well and gave the Lady Trojans a 33-29 lead with 4:02 left in the third quarter with back-to-back 3-point baskets. She finished the game with four 3-pointers and 12 points.
Trailing 33-29 late in the second quarter, Webster got to work by battling inside on the offensive end and hitting consecutive baskets off the backboard.
Kenyata Hendrix scored a game-high 17 for the Lady Trojans (10-4), which play host to Columbus on Friday.