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Gainesville boys hold on to beat Monroe Area
Gainesville High’s Kendrick Millsap, right, and Monroe Area’s Trevon Byrd, left, leap for a rebound during the first half of Tuesday night’s game at the Gainesville High gymnasium.

Sometimes making that extra pass to a wide open shooter can be the difference in a close game.

Then again, sometimes not making a pass is just the right thing to do.

Despite doing the former the majority of the game, when the game was on the line, Gainesville High senior Javez Warren decided to make a play himself by driving through the lane and scoring on a contested short jumper to give the Red Elephants a 66-65 win over Monroe Area on Tuesday in Gainesville.

“Javez did an outstanding job getting to the basket,” said Gainesville coach Todd Cottrell, whose team locked up the No. 2 seed from Region 8B-AAA with the win. “We’ve discussed that situation before, and I’m confident in the guys.”

As much as he believes in his team, Cottrell grew worried when he saw Monroe Area rally from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to take a 65-64 lead late in the game.

With timeouts remaining, Cottrell elected to let his team make a play when the game was on the line.

“They knew what to do,” he said. “I trust them.”

Warren’s late-game heroics saved what should have been a convincing win for Gainesville (16-7, 9-2).

After trailing 14-8 after the first period, and after missing their first 12 attempts from 3-point range, the Red Elephants went on a 13-0 run over the span of 30 seconds to build a 29-18 lead in the second quarter. Freshman Deshaun Watson, who finished with a team-high 20 points, led the rally by making three straight 3-pointers in the 21-point quarter.

Down by 10 to start the third, Monroe Area (16-7, 6-4) went on a 10-0 run to take a 43-41 lead late in the period. Ken Jackson led the charge by scoring 10 of his game-high 28 points in the third quarter.

Any momentum Monroe Area had was quickly stolen by Gainesville’s Quon Holcomb, who hit a corner 3 as time expired in the third that gave the Red Elephants a 44-43 lead heading to the fourth quarter.

Holcomb started the game 0-for-4 from 3-point range, but made four of his final five attempts to finish with 13 points.
Two of those five 3s game in the fourth quarter and were apart of a scoring spurt that saw Gainesville make five straight 3-pointers, including three more by Watson, to build a 63-51 lead with a little more than two minutes remaining.

Then the wheels fell off.

Behind 11 points from Jackson and two made 3s from Devante Jarrell and Tre’Shard Burdette, the Purple Hurricanes took advantage of a couple mental mistakes from Gainesville to erase a nine-point deficit in less than 45 seconds.

“We didn’t close out very well,” Cottrell said. “The guys knew we were supposed to do some things we didn’t do.
“We had a chance to close it out and we didn’t.”

Monroe Area had a chance to win the game with less than 10 seconds, but its 3-point attempt from the corner came up empty and Gainesville escaped with a much-needed win following a blowout loss to East Hall on Saturday.

“We came back very well,” Cottrell said. “I feel confident in this team, but there’s still some things we need to tighten.”

One thing Gainesville doesn’t need to worry about is its ability to rebound the ball, as the Red Elephants pulled down 38 rebounds — including 10 by A.J. Johnson and 11 by Ke’Odric Sadler — against Monroe Area.

Gainesville hosts Johnson at 7:30 p.m. Thursday to conclude the regular season.

GAINESVILLE GIRLS 55, MONROE AREA 27: Rebecca Webster went 9 of 12 from the free throw line and finished with 23 points and six rebounds to lead the Lady Red Elephants to a win Tuesday in Gainesville.

“We think she’s a force inside when she goes up strong,” Gainesville coach Manson Hill said. “People have a hard time guarding her and that sets up a lot of other things on the team.”

That theory was evident in the fourth quarter when Gainesville scored 21 points and held Monroe Area to just five.

It’s quarters like the fourth that leave Hill confident heading into next week’s Region 8-AAA tournament.

“It’s the time of the season when you want to be ready,” Hill said. “We had a lot of inexperienced girls to start the year, and now they have 20 games under their belts. We’re starting to get contributions from a lot of people, and I think we’re right in the hunt with the other good teams in this region.”

Gainesville, which had assists on 10 of its 21 field goals, had seven players score including Kyneka Coleman, who was the team’s second leading scorer with eight points.

The Lady Red Elephants (13-11, 8-3) host Johnson at 6 p.m. Thursday.

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