CUMMING — Jerry Davis’ coaching career isn’t over yet.
Gainesville’s legendary coach, who is set to retire at season’s end, notched a 61-55 win against North Hall in the Region 7-AAA tournament on Wednesday at West Forsyth securing the Red Elephants (15-11) a spot in the Class AAA state playoffs and at the same time advancing to the semifinals of the 7-AAA tournament. “It’s been a season of up and downs, but our kids continue to work and play hard,” Davis said. “Winning never gets old come tournament time.”
George Manomano led Gainesville with a team-high 16 points and finished the game 7-for-9 at the free throw line. Juwon Jeffries scored 10 for Gainesville and Blake Sims added 10.
Clinging to a slim lead the majority of the fourth quarter, Manomano scored on an assist from Sims to build a more comfortable 59-55 lead with only 10 seconds left to play. Gainesville’s senior guard also hit a big 3-pointer early in the fourth to re-take the lead at 43-42.
The Red Elephants key shots down the stretch helped compensate for North Hall’s sharp-shooter Josh Haymore. He hit two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 26 points.
He was the only Trojans scorer in double figures.
“Coach Davis kept up us up and playing hard all night,” Sims said. “It feels really good to win against our rival like this.”
After a dreadful first quarter, Sims gave Gainesville its first lead with a steal and lay-up 44-43 with 6:06 left in the third quarter. He followed that with a carbon-copy steal and lay-up to take a 46-43 lead with 5:40 remaining in the third.
“Everyone has been telling me how big this rivalry is,” Sims said. “So I promised our team all day that we were not going to lose.”
Davis says a major reason for Gainesville’s win was its defensive intensity in the second and third quarters. The Red Elephants held the Trojans to only four second quarter points.
North Hall had a firm grasp on the game early thanks to a 15-6 run punctuated by one of Haymore’s five 3-pointers on the night.
“North Hall has a fine basketball team, and they took it to us early,” Davis said. “But we finally started to settle down and played much better.”
Gainesville plays host to Flowery Branch (22-3) at 8:30 p.m. on Friday night in the tournament semifinals.
“We also like to get to play at home,” Davis added.
North Hall’s season is now complete.