There wasn’t a more obvious answer for D’Marcus Simonds, when asked how happy he was for Gainesville to stay balanced Tuesday night in the Red Elephants’ 83-65 region win over Lanier.
“Family,” said Simonds, a Georgia State signee (VIDEO INTERVIEW HERE). “That’s what we do. When we’re encouraging each other, getting on each other, it looks great.”
Gainesville (7-3, 6-0 in Region 8-AAAAA) knocked down a circus-like 12 3-pointers in the runaway home victory, while five Big Red shooters finished in double digits.
It was Gainesville’s first game back on the court since Dec. 21 when members of the team reportedly engaged in a fight at a holiday tournament in Kentucky. The Red Elephants were handed a two-game suspension following an incident at the Forcht Bank King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic, and did not participate in last week’s Lanierland tournament.
But there was no sign of rust for the Red Elephants in their return to the hardwood. Four different shooters combined to score five treys in the first quarter alone, which allowed Gainesville to take a 15-point lead after the first eight minutes.
Gainesville then proceeded to put up 26 points in the third quarter to pull ahead by as much as 29 at one point. Michael White (13 points), Harry Oliver (11 points) and Messiah Dorsey (11 points) all knocked home 3 treys apiece.
Gainesville visits Flowery Branch at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
“I’m really pleased with how they responded,” said Gainesville coach Benjie Wood, who said he was told that there were 21 assists throughout the game. “There was a lot of energy, a lot of unselfishness. You just don’t know if guys are going to shoot as well as they did, but the guys wanted this really bad. It’s about our ability to pass the ball and get open looks.”
Tyler Taylor scored eight of his team-high 17 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Longhorns (5-10, 1-5), while Juwan Jones had 10 and Justin Simon (nine points) sank three of his team’s five treys.
Xavier Bledson’s jumper with less than a minute left in the third quarter allowed Gainesville to go up 65-36, following back-to-back treys from Dorsey and Oliver. Their shots fueled the second of twin 10-2 runs in the third quarter as Gainesville was unable to miss.
Simonds (13 points) put on an inspiring performance for Gainesville with a triple-double, including five blocks. He and Tae Turner (8 points) combined for an inch-perfect alley-oop early in the second quarter that put Gainesville up by 18, then swatted away what would have been a routine layup for Lanier’s Simon four minutes later.
“It felt really good to be back out there as a team, moving around and getting involved,” he said. “We work hard in practice. It’s to be expected when you work hard. My teammates made shots, all I have to do is find them.”
The focus now shifts to the Falcons on Friday, who are coming off of a program-first Lanierland title last week.
“Flowery Branch is playing very well,” said Wood. “Coach (David) Sokol has done a great job with them. Our whole focus is going to be on us, we’re going to grow and bond.”
GAINESVILLE GIRLS 40, LANIER 31: The Lady Red Elephants put together a 17-point first quarter, powered by three 3-pointers, and never gave up the lead to continue an unbeaten streak in region play.
Taylor Hawks led Gainesville (9-3, 6-0 in Region 8-AAAAA) with 11 points, Breana Fair collected 10, and Shikiya Brown knocked home eight in a balanced effort for the Lady Red Elephants.
Gainesville has won eight of its last nine games since Dec. 1. The lone loss in that streak was in the semifinals of last week’s Lanierland tournament.
Lanier cut the lead to just five with 2:10 left in the fourth quarter, but was unable to capitalize on the momentum of an 8-2 run to open the final period of play. Three different Gainesville players put up field goals to ice the win.
The Longhorns (5-10, 3-3) have been unable to win back-to-back games so far this season. Kalen Surles led Lanier with 11 points, while Bailey Bassette and Jamyah Montissol both had six points apiece.
The Lady Red Elephants next travel to Flowery Branch at 7 p.m. Friday.