The Red Elephants accomplished a feat Saturday night no Gainesville team had done in this century — go to East Hall High and leave with a win.
The Vikings had won every home matchup between the former region foes dating back to 1999 before losing 72-60 in Gainesville.
“I hate to use all of the clichés, but they fit tonight,” Gainesville coach Todd Cotrell said. “We executed well, made shots and played solid defense. It was one of the more complete games we’ve had all season, which is what we want to do at this time of the year.”
Chase England played a major role in ending the losing streak to East Hall (7-12, 4-5). He recorded a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds, four of which were offensive boards.
“Coach (Cotrell) told us about the streak and we used it as motivation today,” England said. “It’s a great feeling to know when I look back on my senior season that we stopped this streak.”
England added that the number of rebounds he recorded was directly related to the play of his teammates.“My teammates put me in a good position. The four other guys boxed out, and I was just in good position and ended up with the ball.”
“Chase is getting his basketball legs back and played solid tonight on both ends of the floor, which is what he does for us,” Cotrell said.
With 5:15 left in the second quarter, Gainesville (10-9, 4-6) trailed by seven points before an 11-0 run spanning 55 seconds was capped off by a Shaquan Cantrell layup. The bucket gave the Red Elephants the 29-25 halftime lead, and they would never look back.
The closest the Vikings came to regaining the lead was off of a Hayden Chapman 3-pointer at the 6:40 mark in the fourth quarter. Chapman’s three points pulled the Vikings to within three of Gainesville’s lead, but the next two offensive possessions were squandered on a missed jump shot and turnover.
In the fall, it was England, Gainesville’s center on the football team, hiking the ball to quarterback Deshaun Watson so that Watson could do something special. It was the opposite scenario last night, as the Red Elephants took momentum back after the Chapman three-pointer on a pair of Watson assists to England.
“He has a lot of faith in me and we both know each other will finish if we are given the chance,” England said. “But that’s not just the two of us. Everyone on this team has that same trust.
“We just know where each other whenever we are on the court or the field,” Watson said. “If something bad happens, we can pick each other back up.”
Watson finished with 14 points, three rebounds, and three assists.
A Watson dunk finished a 16-4 run in favor of Gainesville with 2:30 left in the fourth quarter, and the Vikings began fouling in order to draw out the game on the Red Elephants following offensive possessions.
Gainesville hit 12 of their 16 attempted free throws in the last 2:13 of the game to seal the victory.
“It was good to see because that is a part of the game we have been working on.” Cotrell said.
Brian Edwards scored a game-high 27 points for East Hall to go along with his seven rebounds. Cantrell finished the night as Gainesville’s leading scorer, going for 22 points and adding six rebounds.
East Hall plays at Dawson County on Monday, while Gainesville travels to Athens to take on region leader Cedar Shoals on Tuesday.
EAST HALL GIRLS 45, GAINESVILLE 36: Aliah Burrows lead East Hall (7-12, 2-7) with a team-high eight points in a speedy and balanced attack in which seven Lady Vikings scored.
With four minutes left in the third quarter, the game was tied at 22, but over the next 1:45 East Hall went on an 11-0 run to establish an insurmountable lead and hand the Lady Red Elephants (6-9, 4-4) their third consecutive loss.
“Because of the weather on Friday, we have five games in the next seven days,” East Hall coach Joey Rider said. “It is nice to start that kind of stretch off with a win like this because there will not be much time to practice.”
Gainesville’s Angel Mickle pulled down 17 rebounds to go along with her nine points in the loss.
The Lady Vikings are at Dawson County on Monday, and Gainesville is at Cedar Shoals on Tuesday.