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High school basketball: Gainesville boys utilize late surge to take down Lambert
Gainesville's Jimmie Jackson (1) goes in for a basket while guarded by a pair of Lambert defenders during Friday's game in Gainesville. Photo by Bill Murphy

The Gainesville boys basketball team played its best basketball when it mattered most Friday evening against Lambert in a Region 6-7A bout. 

After battling to a relative stalemate three quarters in, the Red Elephants (12-6, 4-2 Region 6-7A) really opened things up in the fourth, allowing just one made basket on the defensive end and dismantling the visiting Longhorns offensively to earn a 67-41 victory. 

Robert Reisman poured in 21 points, adding six assists and three big blocks to lead Gainesville to the win. 

But it was the defensive effort from the team that had Red Elephants coach Chuck Graham excited following the game. 

“I think the defense actually started it,” Graham said of the group’s strong fourth quarter run. “We were able to penetrate in zone a little bit. If we can play like that on defense, I think we’re gonna be alright.”

The first half of Friday’s game was a tale of two distinctly different opening quarters. 

The teams stayed close for the very beginning of the first period, but Gainesville scored 15 straight over the back half of the frame to open up an 11-point lead early on. 

And while it appeared the Red Elephants would run away with things from there, the visiting Longhorns responded with a 13-point run through the middle of the second that got them all the way to within 2 points of the lead going into halftime. 

Lambert kept things close throughout the majority of the third quarter, but Gainesville began to find its stride in the waning minutes before the final frame, when Ellis and Eli Pitts both connected on corner 3-pointers near the end of the period to push the lead up to five points going into the fourth. 

And with the changing of the quarter, the floodgates really opened for the Red Elephant offense. 

Gainesville got quick buckets from Reisman and Ced Nicely to start the period off. 

Then, Eli Pitts grabbed a steal, avoided a defender with a behind-the-back dribble and put down a two-handed dunk that brought the Alumni Gym spectators to their feet. 

With the momentum all on their side, the Red Elephants scored the last 15 points of the game, holding Lambert to just one made shot in the entire fourth period and cruising to the region win. 

“Any time you can get a region win, especially taking care of it on the home court (it’s a good thing),” Graham said. “I thought the guys played hard and played with a lot of energy tonight.”

Up next, Gainesville hosts West Forsyth at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

GAINESVILLE GIRLS 53, LAMBERT 28: The Lady Red Elephants (10-7, 1-5 Region 6-7A) overcame a slow offensive start to dominate the visiting Lady Longhorns in the second half of Friday evening’s Region 6-7A matchup, securing the crucial region victory at home. 

Gainesville was without head coach Alan Griffin on Friday, as well as starting point guard Zaria Williams, but the team did not skip a beat with assistant coach Katie B. Davis leading the group and guards Keke Jones and Sadie Roach running the offense. 

“We wanted to play great man-to-man defense and let that really tell the tale for the game, and I think for the most part, it did,” Davis said. “We got out with some fastbreak layups, and that kind of settled us down offensively. The rest is history, as they say.”

Jones had 12 points and six assists for Gainesville, while Roach added 10 in the victory, hitting on a trio of 3-point shots. 

And despite a prolific offensive effort in the second half, it was an uphill battle for both teams to put points on the scoreboard early. 

The first quarter featured just five made shots combined between the teams as the Lady Red Elephants fell into a 7-5 hole early. 

The teams found a bit more rhythm in the second frame, but neither could get any separation from the other. A pair of late layups from Jones and Lauren Teasley put Gainesville on top for a moment, but Lambert’s Taylor Parrish knocked down a step-back 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to tie things up at 17-17 going into the break. 

But the Lady Red Elephants came out of the locker room playing an entirely different game. 

Gainesville blitzed the visiting Lady Longhorns on both ends of the court, pouring in 16 points in the first five minutes of the third period while keeping Lambert off the scoreboard entirely. 

The run opened up a 16-point lead for the Lady Red Elephants with one quarter left to play, but Gainesville kept the foot on the gas to close things out. 

Roach and Teasley combined to connect on three 3-point shots in the fourth that kept Lambert at bay and solidified the region win. 

Up next, Gainesville hosts West Forsyth at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

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