GAINESVILLE — A play here or a play there and the outcome is different.
Sometimes that’s the only way a defeat can be described.
Despite a 20-point fourth quarter by Gainesville, in which they came back from an 11-point deficit, a missed play here and there led to a 53-49 overtime loss to No. 6 ranked Sandy Creek on Wednesday night in the second round of the Class AAA state tournament.
With the loss the Region 7-AAA champion Lady Red Elephants’ (24-6) season is over.
“I can’t be any more proud of our effort,” Gainesville coach Manson Hill said. “That was probably our best game of the season. We got beaten by a good team.”
A good team indeed led by, according to hoopgurlz.com, the No. 3 point guard in the nation and No. 14 player overall in Morgan Toles who last year helped lead Class AAAA’s St. Pius X to a state title.
Toles showed her worth at Gainesville’s gym Wednesday, scoring a game-high 24 points on 12-of-19 shooting, four in the overtime period, to lead Sandy Creek.
“She’s a great player,” Hill said. “We were never supposed to be one-on-one with her. We respect her abilites and when we ended up one-on-one it wasn’t by design.”
Toles started the game hot, hitting for 10 first quarter points on 5-of-6 shooting to give her team a seven-point lead after one.
The Lady Fighting Patriots built on their lead over the next two quarters and, even when Gainesville looked to be gaining momentum, overcame to go into the fourth quarter up by 11 points.
The No.7 ranked-Lady Red Elephants, stunned from the quickness of Sandy Creek, found their own rhythm and speed in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t play anybody this season with the kind of speed (Sandy Creek) had,” Hill said. “We rushed a lot of things (in the first half) because their speed sped us up.”
Settling into their own style couldn’t have come at a better time, as freshman shooting guard Mikelyn DeFoor led a resilient fourth-quarter charge for Gainesville with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting.
DeFoor finished the game with 10 points.
The Lady Red Elephants took their first lead of the game with two-and-a-half minutes remaining on two free throws by Jaymee Carnes and looked to have shown up in enough time to win when, on Sandy Creek’s ensuing possession, smothered the Lady Fighting Patriots with an intense version of a full-court press to cause a 10-second violation and regain possession.
A Carnes layup with less than a minute to go put Gainesville up by three, but Sandy Creek, as was the case all night, found a way to answer as junior Kafi Hemphill hit an improbable 3-pointer with 23 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
Hemphill finished with 14 points for the Lady Fighting Patriots and senior power forward Jaquaye Okai added 10.
Carnes finished with a team-high 18 points and added five blocks for Gainesville.
The lack of an answer Gainesville had for Toles in the first quarter came back to haunt it in overtime as the 5-foot-7-inch point guard had four of Sandy Creek’s eight points in the extra period to seal the win for her team.
“All of our players grew up in the second half,” Hill said. “A play here or there at the end and we win.”