GAINESVILLE — Three ranked teams played at Gainesville on Tuesday night.
The most impressive showing, however, was from the one that wasn’t ranked.
In the first game, Class AAA’s top-ranked girls team Franklin County got 21 points from senior standout Ashley Harris to beat No. 5 Gainesville 48-36.
In the nightcap, Georgia commit Demario Mayfield and the No. 3-ranked Lions were held to their lowest point total of the season as Gainesville won 60-39.
“(The win) was good for us,” said first-year Gainesville coach Todd Cottrell. “It was good for our guys and I’m glad to see them play with a little more confidence.”
The Red Elephants (3-5) played inspired basketball from the get-go, in an attempt to avenge the 20-point loss suffered at Franklin County on Dec. 2.
They held the Lions to one shot on the defensive end while jumping out to a 13-0 lead.
Gainesville finished the first quarter up 22-9 with George Manomano scoring nine and Blake Sims seven.
“We shot the ball well, especially early,” Cottrell said. “That gave us confidence for the rest of the game and we had a working margin.
“The last few games, we’ve kind of had to play from behind, tonight we got to play from ahead.”
While Gainesville’s first quarter offensive effort stunned Franklin County (9-3) into calling two timeouts, it was the Red Elephants’ defensive pressure that set the tone for the game.
Using a 1-2-2 full-court press, Gainesville limited not only Mayfield’s looks (he was 1-for-3 in the first quarter) but the teams’, as the Lions hit just three field goals in the first eight minutes.
Mayfield finished as the team’s leading scorer with 15 points and 17 rebounds, but was only 3-of-10 shooting.
“Well, you just try to hold him as good as you can and, fortunately for us, he was off a little bit tonight,” Cottrell said.
“We tried not to give him very many good looks and, you know, when he did get them he had a hard time making them. We just caught him on one of those nights he doesn’t often have.”
Franklin County isn’t No. 3 in the state for nothing and, using a full-court man-to-man, jumped back in the game in the second quarter, pulling within four while holding Gainesville to five points.
The Red Elephants, however, came out the second half like they did the first going on an 8-2 run capped by two made free throws by A.J. Johnson to take the lead back to 10 points.
“We’re still growing,” Cottrell said, “we’re still trying to find a little thing here or there, but I like where we’re going and if we can get consistent effort like (this game), we’ll be pretty good at the end I hope.”
The Lions cut the deficit back to four points on two consecutive 3-pointers by Mayfield midway through the third quarter, but that was as close as they would get.
Gainesville ended the quarter on an 8-0 run and with a dunk at the buzzer by junior Chris West to go up by 12, a lead the Red Elephants would do nothing but build on in the final period.
“I was real proud of when (Franklin County) made a couple of runs, we kept our poise, which was something that we needed to work on,” Cottrell said.
“To play a quality opponent and win, that’s special. But we didn’t make it to the state tournament by winning and we weren’t put out of the state tournament had we lost.”
Sims finished as the game’s leading scorer with 18 points and five steals. Manomano added 15 points while Nick Johnson had 10.
Rico Mayfield was the Lions’ only other double-digit scorer with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Gainesville returns to action at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Carrollton.
Franklin County girls 48, Gainesville 36
Ashley Harris led seven Lady Lions’ scorers with 21 points in the win Tuesday night at Gainesville.
The Lady Red Elephants held a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter, but were outscored 29-16 over the next two quarters while Franklin County (11-1, 3-0 Region 8-AAA) built a 12-point lead they couldn’t overcome.
Jacquie Williams-Perry added eight points for Franklin County.
Jaymee Carnes led Gainesville (6-5, 1-0 Region 7-AAA) with 10 points, Kiki Thompson had six.