With his team up 10 points at halftime, Gainesville coach Manson Hill knew the East Hall girls were too good not to go on a run.
It was what his team did to respond that concerned him.
"We talked at the end of third quarter (with the score tied at 33) about answering runs and trying to attack them postively," Hill said.
His girls listened and outscored the Lady Vikings 21-13 in the fourth quarter en route to a 54-46 win Friday night at East Hall.
With Gainesville’s third win against East Hall (15-7, 6-2) this season, the Lady Red Elephants (13-8, 7-1 Region 7B-AAA) not only stopped East Hall’s seven-game winning streak, but moved into sole possession of first place in the Region 7B-AAA standings.
"Our goal has always been and still is to win region," East Hall coach Joey Rider said. "Gainesville beat us by 15 and 18 points the first two times so we’re coming along.
"I’m proud of the girls."
Intense defensive pressure that resulted in five first half jump balls dominated the game for both teams with the advantage going to Gainesville because of its size.
Playing a 2-3 zone, the Lady Red Elephants were able to get in the passing lanes with ease and block shots on the perimeter.
That was most evident in the fourth quarter when Gainesville had four blocks, all on perimeter shots, three by Jaymee Carnes.
"We score a lot of points," Rider said. "Against Gainesville though it’s hard because they are so long and able to extend the zone."
The quality of Gainesville’s bench was also a key for the Lady Red Elephants, even though they played two fewer players than East Hall.
"We basically have seven starters," Hill said. "Some players just do better if they get to watch the game for a few minutes."
Namely Kela Griffin, who used her quickness and athleticism to streak up the floor against East Hall’s full-court man-to-man pressure and get open for layups.
Griffin’s four first-quarter points provided a spark for Gainesville.
"Kela’s a wonderful athlete and a great player," Hill said. "She’s every bit a starter as the rest and just gives us that extra spark."
The Lady Red Elephants managed to take a 10-point lead into halftime due in part to an 11-1 second quarter run, but mainly because East Hall went cold from the field.
The Lady Vikings had only one field goal in a second quarter in which they scored only five points.
"We talk about the fact that it’s going to be a 32-minute battle," Rider said. "We need to be at our best for 32 minutes and not have lapses."
East Hall made up for its second quarter lapse by outscoring Gainesville 20-10 in the third quarter to go into the fourth quarter with the score knotted at 33.
Symone Hampton provided a much-needed spark off the bench for East Hall hitting 10 of her 11 points in the third quarter. Freshman Jasmine Jenkins scored six of her team-high 17 to help with the comeback.
It was Gainesville’s game from that point forward, however, as the Lady Red Elephants began the final period on a 10-1 run and simply built on their lead from there.
Carnes was the catalyst for Gainesville’s takeover as she scored eight of her 19 points in the fourth quarter, and finished with five rebounds and three blocks in the quarter.
"Jaymee (Carnes) was huge for us and it’s an advantage having the best player in the region on this team," Hill said.
Carnes was the game’s leading scorer and added nine rebounds and six blocks. Loren Thomas added 11 for the Lady Red Elephants.
"Loren Thomas was huge for us tonight," Hill said. "She handled their pressure and did so with composure. She was great."
Gainesville returns to action at 6 tonight at Class AA’s top-ranked Buford while East Hall next plays host to Whitefield Academy at 4:30 today.
East Hall boys 73, Gainesville 66 OT
The Vikings outscored Gainesville 31-17 during the fourth quarter and overtime period to snap a two-game losing streak to the Red Elephants.
East Hall was led by Kymmon Woods with 33 points, Dustin Duckworth with 19 and Kevin Blackwell with 10 points including three 3-pointers.
Gainesville was led by George Manomano with 24 points and Juwon Jeffries with 14.
East Hall next plays at 6 tonight when it plays host to Whitefield Academy. Gainesville returns to action at 7:30 tonight at Buford.