The opening possession of Gainesville’s Region 7-AAA tournament semifinal game against Flowery Branch ended with a George Manomano steal, the first of 12 for Gainesville, and a Blake Sims layup on the other end.
It set the tone for a 55-38 Red Elephants’ rout of subregion rival Flowery Branch.
With the win, Gainesville (16-8) moves to the Region 7-AAA finals where it will face West Hall at 8:30 tonight at Chestatee High. Flowery Branch (15-12) will play for the No. 3 seed in the state playoffs when it takes on North Hall at 5:30 today at Chestatee.
“We had a solid defensive effort and rebounded the ball extremely well,” Gainesville coach Todd Cottrell said. “We’re real excited (about being in the tournament finals). Our guys are competitive and want to win every game.”
Gainesville held Flowery Branch to its lowest point total of the season.
Gainesville jumped out to a 14-4 lead before Flowery Branch center Ishmael Hollis took over, going on a personal 5-0 run.
It would be his only scoring contributions of the night as he was forced to the bench with four fouls in the first quarter.
“We’ve got a good post game,” said Cottrell, the former Flowery Branch coach who has now led two different teams to the region finals in as many years. “Our guys really work hard in there.”
Gainesville took advantage of Hollis’ foul trouble, which diminished not only his time on the floor but his ability to be aggressive on the boards.
The Red Elephants outrebounded the Falcons 28-19 in the game and senior center Brock Boleman, the tallest player on the team at 6-foot-6, was the second leading scorer for Gainesville with 11 points.
“(Ishmael) Hollis’ absence changed a lot of stuff around the basket,” Cottrell said. “Brock (Boleman) played a great game on both ends of the floor.”
A Phillips Chau 3-pointer pulled the Falcons within four, the closest they would get the entire game, at the end of the first quarter.
Gainesville responded with the sharp shooting of Juwon Jeffries, who ended the first quarter and began the second with back-to-back 3-pointers. He gave Gainesville a double-digit lead that it would hold until two minutes to go in the third quarter.
Jeffries led all scorers with 22 points including four 3-pointers.
“Juwon’s a hard matchup,” Cottrell said. “He’s learned how to use his size inside, but can also handle the ball and shoot. Our guys got him the ball tonight and he had a tremendous game.”
Flowery Branch narrowed the deficit to single digits twice in the second half, the final time coming after a 6-0 run pulled the Falcons within four points early in the fourth quarter.
Gainesville didn’t let them get closer, closing out the game on a 16-4 run.
“I feel like we’re playing good basketball right now,” Cottrell said. “If nothing else, the times we don’t play well are getting shorter and shorter.
“Instead of minutes, it’s possessions.”
Gainesville girls 47, Chestatee 27
It took a quarter for the nerves to settle, but once they did, the Lady Red Elephants dominated in their region semifinal win Friday night at Chestatee High.
Gainesville (17-9) was down by three after the first quarter due in part to an eight-point, 4-for-5 performance from the field from Chestatee sophomore Peyton Robertson, who finished with a game-high 15 points.
That would be the last lead the Lady War Eagles (16-10) would have, however, as Gainesville held them without a field goal through the second quarter, outscoring them 16-1.
In fact, the Lady War Eagles wouldn’t convert another field goal until the five-minute mark of the third quarter.
Gainesville, on the other hand, cruised on the offensive end with a balanced team attack. The Lady Red Elephants had eight scorers, none in double figures, led by Jaymee Carnes with nine points, seven rebounds and four blocks.
Mikalyn DeFoor and Madison Strickland added eight each for Gainesville which moves onto the Region 7-AAA finals against subregion foe East Hall at 7 tonight at Chestatee High.
East Hall girls 59, Gilmer 46
Hannah Strickland had 15 points, including four 3-pointers to lead the Lady Vikings over Gilmer on Saturday night in the region semifinals.
The win puts the Lady Vikings in the Region 7-AAA finals where they will play Gainesville at 7 tonight at Chestatee High.
East Hall (21-7) held a 10-6 lead at the end of the first and never relinquished it despite Gilmer’s runs.
The Lady Bobcats (22-5), after an 11-4 run midway through the fourth quarter, cut the lead to six.
East Hall responded immediately with a Symone Hampton putback off a missed free throw to push the lead back to eight and regain the momentum needed to get the win.
Jasmine Jenkins had 13 points for East Hall. Morgan Jackson and Hampton each contributed 11.
Gilmer was led by Sarah Jones with 13 points.
West Hall 47, North Hall 37
The Spartans took their first lead of the game on a Rodney Gibson layup with six minutes to go in the second quarter and never looked back en route to a win Friday night in the Region 7-AAA semifinals at Chestatee High.
With the win, West Hall will play Gainesville for the region championship at 8:30 tonight at Chestatee. North Hall will play in the third place game against Flowery Branch at 5:30 today at Chestatee.
North Hall kept the game close with intense defensive pressure that had the Trojans ahead at the end of the first quarter. The Trojans defense also held West Hall to its lowest point total of the season.
Not to be outmatched, West Hall’s defense held North Hall to its lowest point total of the season and kept the Trojans from getting closer than six points in the second half.
West Hall was led by Shunquez Stephens with 12 points and Rodney Gibson with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Kanler Coker led North Hall with eight points. Ethan Satterfield and Lance White each contributed seven.