OAKWOOD — The Gainesville boys basketball team was tired Saturday night.
“I’m a little tired,” sophomore Deshaun Watson said.
It’s not surprising. A day after traveling up to Asheville, N.C., for a game, the Red Elephants traveled to West Hall and needed four overtimes to defeat the Spartans 91-79 on Saturday.
And yet it was in the final overtime that Gainesville finally seemed to find fresh legs, scoring 14 points in just four minutes to finally bring to an end a thrilling rivalry game.
Tired, but not too tired.
“I’m just really proud of my team,” Red Elephants coach Todd Cottrell said. “They showed a lot of heart, character and resolve.”
And it was the whole team. Tray Harrison, who scored just five points off the bench, tallied three of those on one of the plays of the game, a buzzer-beater in the first overtime to keep Gainesville alive. It capped a 10-2 rally for the Red Elephants after falling behind by eight to start the overtime.
“Tray, he’s not afraid of the big moment, and I can say that about the whole team,” Cottrell said.
Watson, who scored 23, was just hoping it would go in.
“I see him pull up and I say, please go in. But we still had to go to more overtimes.
In the second overtime, the hero was Javez Warren, who scored 13 points, no two bigger than the two free throws he made with six seconds left to even the score at 71 after two overtimes.
In the third overtime it was West Hall’s Rico Jones (11 points) who kept the game alive, sinking a pair of free throws with under one minute to make it 77-77.
Another Spartan, Hunter Atkinson (20 points), had buried a free throw with 1:40 left in regulation to send the game into overtime.
Gainesville allowed no such comeback 12 minutes later, opening the final overtime with a layup from Warren, then a free throw from Shaquan Cantrell (23 points), a layup by Watson and another by Warren to finally put the game out of reach at 84-77.
West Hall’s A.J. Stephens couldn’t sink a shot in the final overtime, but his 31 points still led all scorers on a night when each team had plenty of time to score.
GAINESVILLE GIRLS 38, WEST HALL 29: Senior Rebecca Webster scored 23 and the Lady Red Elephants turned in one of their best defense efforts to win in Oakwood on Saturday night.
Gainesville (11-6, 4-2 Region 8-AAA South) held Hall County rivals and Region 8-AAA opponent West Hall (5-15, 2-4) to just seven points combined in the second and third quarters.
“It was a great team effort on defense,” Gainesville coach Brenda Hill-Gilmore said.
The defense, and Webster’s shooting touch, turned the game around.
Webster, who scored 17 of her squad’s first 19 points, sparked a 15-0 run by Gainesville to turn a 15-9 deficit early in the second quarter into a 10-point lead late in the third.
“She is just an awesome player,” Hill-Gilmore said of Webster, who turned in one of her best offensive performances of the season. “She understands the game, she’s a go-to player and she knows when we need a basket.”
LeNisha Kearse led West Hall with 12 points and Brooke Read scored eight. Hunter Pugh, who scored Gainesville’s only two points of the first half not recorded by Webster, tallied four points and eight rebounds.
Gainesville returns to the court Monday at Carrollton at 6 p.m. West Hall travels to Monroe Area at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.