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Johnson knocks off Gainesville for 2nd straight Lanierland title
Senior guard Cockfield sparks Knights to victory
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Gainesville's D'Marcus Simonds, center, looks to make a play against Johnson's Roderick English, left, and Daemonte Nicholson. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Boys All-Lanierland Team

Ty Cockfield, Johnson (MVP)

Bryson Jones, West Hall

Brock Wingo, North Hall

Tae Turner, Lakeview Academy

Taylor Bourdage, Flowery Branch

Jordan Pulliam, Chestatee

Tylor Brown, East Hall

D'Marcus Simonds, Gainesville

Roderick English, Johnson

Ty Cockfield could hear the chants ringing from the other side of the court as Johnson limped into halftime of the Lanierland title game.

“No offers, no offers,” jeered the Gainesville student section to the senior as the Knights finished an 11-point second quarter and trailed 34-29.

No problem for Cockfield.

The 6-foot guard came to life after the break, scoring 15 of his 22 points in the third quarter to spur Johnson past previously unbeaten Gainesville (12-1), 76-63, on Tuesday at Chestatee High School and secure his team’s second straight Lanierland title.

After first winning the title in 1988, Johnson has now won back-to-back Lanierland championships.

“Hey, they can say what they want to say, man, but we’re the champs,” said Cockfield, wearing a winners’ medal around his neck. “The (college) offers, they’re coming.”

Cockfield’s only offer so far is from Cleveland State. After Tuesday’s lights-out performance, more interest will surely follow.

Johnson (12-0) jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game, only to see the early advantage disappear thanks to the Red Elephants’ clutch free throw shooting. And Gainesville added to its lead with a 23-point second quarter.

But Cockfield’s resurgence was too much for Gainesville to handle, even with D’Marcus Simonds (33 points) scoring 15 of the Red Elephants’ 19 points in the final eight minutes.

“At halftime, I was telling (Cockfield), ‘it’s your time,’” Johnson coach Jeff Steele said. “He was a little bit passive and wasn’t attacking in transition, but that’s the only halftime adjustment we made, that he be more aggressive, and I think it worked.”

It took another Johnson senior to get the Knights off to a hot start. Roderick English (team-high 25 points) opened the game with a transition 3-pointer to spark a 9-0 run out of the gate, putting Gainesville on the defensive.

The Red Elephants hit 11 free throws to slowly and methodically claw back on top. A Simonds 3-pointer two minutes into the second quarter gave Gainesville its first lead, 20-18, causing the junior to slap the floor in exultation.

The lead grew to four when Bailey Minor (9 points) and Jermaine Fleming (8 points) converted back-to-back layups to put their team up 34-29 at halftime with momentum on its side.

That’s when Steele and Cockfield made their halftime adjustment. The speedy guard began consistently attacking the paint and found little opposition.

A coast-to-coast layup by Cockfield, coupled with a successful foul shot, tied the game at 41 before English’s timely 3-pointer gave Johnson the spark it needed to stamp its authority on the game.

“How about Rod English, man?” Steele said of his senior. “He had a bunch (of points) and he played a heck of a game. It’s collective, we buy into this system and we’re a family. That’s what this group is for.”

Cockfield sliced through Gainesville’s half-court press to spark a 15-3 Johnson run through a six-minute stretch in the third quarter.

Down 53-46 going into the final quarter, the Red Elephants turned to Simonds, who hit all nine of his free throws in the fourth, as well as four field goals to keep his team in striking distance.

But the lead grew too large, and by the time English completed an old-fashioned three-point play with less than a minute left to give Johnson its first double-digit lead of the night, Gainesville fans were already heading for the exits.

“Johnson’s just a really good team,” Gainesville coach Benjie Wood said. “They earned it. They played really well, so we won’t make any excuses.”

Cockfield knew exactly what the win means to his team.

“It’s history, it’s history,” he said. “We’ve been here three times and won it twice. I love it.”

EAST HALL 71, CHESTATEEE 40: Joe Dix’s East Hall team took no time to feel sorry for itself after Monday’s loss to Gainesville in the Lanierland semifinals.

Instead, the Vikings (9-2) took out their frustration on Chestatee on Tuesday afternoon to claim third place with a dominating blowout win on the War Eagles’ home court.

East Hall scored forty points in the first half alone to rout fourth-place Chestatee (8-6), who managed one field goal in the opening quarter.

The Vikings scored the game’s first 14 points before dropping seven 3-pointers to bury the memory of a 26-point loss to Hall County rival Gainesville.

Mahki Brown led East Hall with 17 points, while junior Jacquen Hopkins and senior Kyvon Davenport combined for 23.

The Vikings came out with a breathless full court press from the start and harried War Eagle shooters on each possession.

Rylee Camp was finally able to get Chestatee’s first points when his jumper fell through with more than six minutes gone. By then, East Hall couldn’t score quickly enough. Davenport and Roderick Hughey (6 points) ended the first eight minutes by getting a hand each on a buzzer-beating dunk.

Davenport converted the highlight of the evening when his reverse dunk sent East Hall into a timeout up by 20 with three minutes to play in the opening half.

FLOWERY BRANCH 46, LAKEVIEW 35: Taylor Bourdage shot a game-high 16 points, Trey Bailey added 12 and Flowery Branch defeated Lakeview Tuesday afternoon to earn fifth place at the Lanierland Tournament at Chestatee High.

Lakeview’s Tae Turner led the Lions with 10 points.

Lakeview scored 16 in the second quarter to lead by three at halftime, but scored just 13 points in the second half as Flowery Branch’s shooters found their rhythm.

The Falcons scored 18 in the final quarter to close out the win.

NORTH HALL 68, WEST HALL 44: Carson Heinen (13 points), Sam Jackson (12) and Evan Eason (11) all scored in double figures on Tuesday to lead the Trojans past the Spartans and earn seventh place at the Lanierland Tournament at Chestatee High.

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