Gainesville left little doubt Tuesday night as to who is the top men’s basketball team in the 8-AAAAA North subregion.
The Red Elephants, ranked No. 4 in the state by one poll, brought an undefeated subregion record to the Apalachee gym and thrashed the Wildcats 75-59 in a game that was only close for about half a quarter.
“They were definitely the better team tonight,” said Apalachee coach Kevin Morris after the game.
“Even if we had won, we would still be No. 2 in the subregion because they are 5-0 against the other half of the region and we are 3-2.”
K.J. Buffen led Gainesville (17-4, 14-0 Region 8-AAAAA) with 18 points and 14 rebounds. He was supported by Bailey Minor with 16 points, D’Marcus Simonds with 14 and Harry Oliver with 12, all on four 3-point shots.
The Wildcats’ No. 2 seed for the upcoming region tournament depends on their defeating Discovery Friday night at the AHS gym and beating Flowery Branch in a makeup game Saturday afternoon in Flowery Branch.
Baldwin was the only Apalachee player in double figures in Tuesday’s loss, pouring in 28 points and pulling down eight rebounds.
During the game, Baldwin also eclipsed two more career school records, setting the marks for rebounds and steals. The senior, who has committed to Butler University, needs just seven more points to reach the 2,500 plateau for his career.
Hill and Omar Ahmed each scored eight points and Wonzon added seven for the Cats.
The Red Elephants shot a sizzling 62.8 percent overall on their floor shots, while the Cats (17-5, 6-2 in subregion play) converted only 38.9 percent of their 54 shots.
Gainesville jumped out to an 8-0 lead, but 3-pointers by Baldwin, Ahmed and Hill cut the lead to 10-9 with 4:42 left in the opening quarter.
The Wildcats cut the lead to a single point again on another 3-pointer by Hill about two minutes later, but the Red Elephants erupted on an 11-2 run over the next couple of minutes and increased their lead to 25-15 with 29.2 left in the opening period.
Gainesville opened the second period with a 12-5 surge and took a 37-21 lead, which they increased to 17 points on one of Oliver’s 3-pointers with 1:37 left.
Baldwin scored the last five points of the quarter for the Wildcats and made the score 40-28 at the half.
Wonzon scored five of his points in the first 30 seconds of the third quarter and Ahmed sank another 3-pointer to get the Cats within six points.
But the Red Elephants countered with a 16-4 run and widened their lead to 18 points, 58-40, with 2:16 left in the period and led 59-43 heading into the final period.
The Red Elephants led by as many as 26 points with 4:26 left to play.
Baldwin scored eight of his points as Apalachee finished the game with a 13-3 surge of its own and made the final score a bit more respectable.
GAINESVILLE GIRLS 39, APALACHEE 25: Taylor Hawks led Gainesville with seven points, Breanna Fair and Cori Griffith both added six each and seven other Red Elephants scored at least a point Tuesday night to push Gainesville to a road region victory.
Shania Thomas led Apalachee with 14 points and Hooks finished with six.
Jada Harrison tallied five points for Gainesville, while Shikiya Brown and Tija Blackwell both contributed four apiece.
The Lady Red Elephants outscored the Lady Wildcats 13-3 in the opening quarter, and Apalachee was kept out of double digits until midway through the third quarter.