Playing against one of their biggest rivals, Gainesville’s two biggest stars shined.
In the girls’ game, it was senior Jaymee Carnes, who scored a game-high 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead the Lady Red Elephants to a 41-33 win Monday over East Hall.
In the nightcap, it was senior Blake Sims, whose dunk off an alley-oop was one of several highlights of his 28-point performance that led to a 73-61 win over the Vikings.
“Blake just makes plays,” Gainesville coach Todd Cottrell said of the dunk that started the fourth quarter. “The guys saw it and he got a great curl of the screen.”
The dunk from Sims, which came off a pass from Chris West, was the first of two slams for the guard and helped continue a scoring run that started with a Quan Holcomb 3-pointer with the score tied 34-34. Holcomb, who finished the game with 19 points, gave Gainesville (9-7, 6-2 Region 7B-AAA) momentum heading to the fourth by hitting his fourth 3-pointer as time expired.
“Quan made some real nice plays for us,” Cottrell said. “He had a great game and hit some big shots.”
Cottrell called Monday’s win a complete team effort, and complimented the play of West and A.J. Johnson, who both finished with 12 rebounds.
“This win is big,” Cottrell said. “It’s a traditional rival and I’m proud of our guys for how they persevered.”
That determination to win showed after a slow start in the third quarter that saw East Hall (15-7, 7-2) erase a four-point halftime deficit. J.C. Hampton keyed the Vikings’ run by scoring six of his team-high 17 points in the third. Charles Perry finished with 16 points for East Hall.
But as Gainesville found its rhythm — thanks in large part to Holcomb’s 11 third-quarter points — the Vikings lost theirs and made just two field goals in final four minutes of the third.
“We just got a couple of stops and made a couple baskets,” Cottrell said of how his team pulled away from the Vikings. “East Hall went cold and we got hot.”
The ability to shut down a talented team like East Hall and go on scoring runs at any point in the game gives Cottrell a good feeling about his team.
“I think come tournament time, if we continue to improve, we’ll be a hard out,” he said. “We still have a long way to go.”
Gainesville continues what Cottrell called its “NBA schedule” at 7:30 tonight when the Red Elephants play host to Lambert. The game against the Longhorns is the first of five games in a seven-day span for the Red Elephants.
East Hall looks to rebound from this loss when it visits Johnson at 7:30 tonight.
GAINESVILLE GIRLS 41, EAST HALL 33: As Gainesville coach Manson Hill stood outside his team’s locker room, he could do nothing but compliment the play of his senior Carnes, who passed Pat Henney and Mahogany Hudson to become the second leading scorer in school history.
“She’s truly a great player,” Hill said. “I think she’s one of the best players to ever play in this county.”
Carnes proved that Monday against East Hall (15-5, 9-1 Region 7B-AAA), and at one point in the fourth quarter was single-handedly outscoring the Lady Vikings 22-21.
Gainesville (10-8, 7-1) was more than just Carnes however, as Rebecca Webster contributed with 13 rebounds (six offensive) and Kate Callahan added six points and six rebounds. For the game, Gainesville had a 33-17 edge in rebounds.
“We’re not faster than a lot of people, but we’re bigger than most,” Hill said. “If we’re not winning the rebounding battle, we’re taking away our biggest advantage.”
East Hall’s biggest advantage was its quickness and fast hands that sparked a scoring run to start the fourth quarter which cut the deficit to three points. The Lady Vikings didn’t get any closer, and Callahan came up with a big block and knocked down two free throws to seal the win.
Jasmine Jenkins scored 11 points for East Hall, which visits Johnson at 6 tonight.
Gainesville plays host to Lambert at 6 tonight.