The Gainesville boys were dealt an unfortunate night to face Apalachee.
Facing Region 8-AAAAA’s highest-scoring team, the Red Elephants could only watch as the Wildcats drained a season-best 16 3-pointers and rolled to a 90-73 win on Friday.
Apalachee, which entered the game averaging 79 points per game, was 10 of 13 from the 3-point line in the second half, which helped the Wildcats avoid a potential Gainesville rally when the Red Elephants (10-8, 4-6) cut their lead to seven with 5:24 left to play.
Apalachee (14-3, 8-3) hit three more baskets from the arc thereafter to secure the win and reach the 90-point mark for the fourth time this season.
“They’re good, and they shot the ball extremely well tonight,” Gainesville coach Benjie Wood said. “Just have to give them credit.”
Kamar Baldwin scored 31 points for the Wildcats, including 10 in the final five minutes of the game, after the Red Elephants cut Apalachee’s lead to 69-62 with a 13-5 run to open the fourth quarter.
The 5-foot-11 sophomore, who averages 28 points per game, was 6 for 6 from the free throw line and sunk three 3-pointers of his own.
“People want to deny him, and sometimes that successful for a little bit, but he can get the ball of the defensive rebound and he’s going to go to the other end,” Wildcats coach Kevin Morris said. “I’m glad he’s on my team.”
Ithello Cross led Gainesville with 19 points and six rebounds, one of the few categories the Red Elephants led. They totaled 35 boards to Apalachee’s 17.
Cross scored 12 in the first half, which was far more balanced than the latter portion of the game.
“Ithello Cross continues to play his tail off,” Wood said. “We need him to continue that, and we need a few guys to join him.”
Nam Van Dulm also reached double figures for Gainesville with 17 points.
Normally a prominent scoring threat for the Red Elephants, Van Dulm was held scoreless in the first half before getting hot from the free throw line later in the contest. He made five of his eight shots at the end of the third quarter, then scored 10 in the fourth with a key 3-pointer during Gainesville’s spark early in the period.
“We need consistency (from Van Dulm),” Wood said.
The Red Elephants are still on the outside looking in at the region’s top four teams. But with six wins in their last eight games, they remain in a repairable position with six region games left on the schedule.
Meanwhile, Apalachee continues to chase down a top seed in the region, alongside unbeaten frontrunner Clarke Central, Heritage and Cedar Shoals.
“Even with eight seniors leaving, five of these got to play a whole bunch last year,” Morris said. “Our style of playing a lot of people has helped us progress into this kind of team that we are.”
Joey German did the most of the Wildcats’ damage from 3-point range, hitting seven from long-range for 21 points.
Kent Knowles added 15 points, making three treys of his own.
“We’re averaging nine a game this year, so it’s kind of the style we’ve adopted this year,” Morris said. “Our biggest player is 6-1, so we have to use what we have. We have quickness, and we guys that can shoot the basketball really well.”
Gainesville controlled the pace to open the game, and led by as much as four in the first quarter before German hit a pair of 3-pointer to give Apalachee its first lead with 1:28 left in the first quarter.
The Red Elephants entered the second quarter with a 21-20 deficit, but quickly jumped back in front on a 3-pointer by Luke Maddox to open the period.
Gainesville held on to a small lead for the next two minutes, but Apalachee continued chipping away until Wright Patterson’s basket at the 5:05 mark put the Wildcats back in front, 26-25.
That was enough to swing momentum back in Apalachee’s favor, as the Wildcats outscored the Red Elephants 16-11 the rest of the quarter. That included an 8-4 run in the closing minutes before the buzzer, putting Apalachee up 42-34 at halftime.
The Wildcats opened the second half with four consecutive 3-pointers, pushing their lead to 54-42 after the streak. They hit six more in the quarter and led 64-49 through three.
Gainesville’s surge early in the fourth put the Red Elephants the closest to tying the game since the second quarter, but two 3-pointers from Knowles and another from German put a rally out of reach for Gainesville.
The Red Elephants host Winder-Barrow at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
GAINESVILLE GIRLS 47, APALACHEE 14: Ten different players scored points as the Lady Red Elephants snapped a two-game losing streak with the definitive victory.
Paisley Lee, Bessie Winston and Sophia Jackson led Gainesville (14-4, 8-2 Region 8-AAAAA) with eight points each.
The Lady Red Elephants scattered their point-scorers by rotating five-player units throughout the game, giving the entire lineup plenty of playing time.
The win was one point short of a season best in points allowed for Gainesville. The Lady Red Elephants led 25-9 at halftime, then continued to dominate with a 22-5 advantage in the second half.
Tia Carter led Apalachee (1-16, 0-11) with six points. She was one of only four Lady Wildcats to score in the game. Anizsah Howard – one of those four players — recorded a game-high nine rebounds.