Chestatee senior Parker Smith lit up Gainesville High's gym for Christmas, hitting for a game-high 37 points in the War Eagles 68-55 win over the Red Elephants on Friday night in Gainesville.
"Parker's Parker, he's a terrific player," said Chestatee head coach Russ Triaga.
Using a 1-2-2 half-court zone and full court man-to-man pressure after a made basket, the War Eagles (1-1) shut Gainesville (2-3) down for the better part of the first quarter.
The Red Elephants scored their first basket five minutes into the first quarter on a steal by George Manomano that, thanks to an assist by Allan Dockery, resulted in a layup by Manomano.
Chestatee immediately answered with a 3-point basket by Brandon Jovaag, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
Gainesville would score or make a run, Chestatee would answer in full.
The War Eagles held a 16-8 lead after the first quarter thanks to energizing contributions off the bench from Jo Jo Sweet and Brandon Smith, much needed considering that Parker Smith picked up two early fouls.
"We pride ourselves on playing hard," said Triaga, "We know we're a good team but with that we have very little margin for error. We know that Parker's (Smith's) going to score and that (Brandon) Jovaag's going to score and that (Chestatee point guard) Nathan Shope can handle the ball with anybody in this region, but after that we have role players that need to step up and do something and they did that tonight."
Sweet had five points in the first quarter, three off free throws, and Brandon Smith had three.
"Brandon Smith had one turnover, a big three for us, it's the best he's ever played," said Triaga. "Jo Jo (Sweet) played well on both ends."
The Red Elephants' offense didn't take the floor until the second quarter, but when it did, they made a game of it by cutting Chestatee's lead to two on a reverse layup by senior Martin Estes.
As was the case all night, however, Chestatee scored on it's next possession, another three by Jovaag, to regain the momentum.
Jovaag finished the game with 14 points.
Leading by five with less that three minutes to go in the half, Gainesville coach Jerry Davis called for full-court pressure by his team and it produced immediate results in the form of a Chestatee turnover and Dockery layup.
Dockery finished the game with nine points.
When the Red Elephants looked to br making a turn for the better, however, the War Eagles would come right back and did that to end the half, hitting three free throws to push their lead to six going into the half.
"We were disappointed in ourselves Tuesday in the way that we played," said Triaga. "Flowery Branch played a good game and deserved to beat us, but we know that when we're good is when we're playing hard and we're fighting and that's what we did tonight."
The second half started much the same as the first half did.
Parker Smith hit a fade-away jumper from the free-throw line to open the second half and, after a Gainesville miss, Jovaag hit a 3-pointer on Chestatee's second possession of the half to give the War Eagles a 12-point lead at 36-24.
The Red Elephants got their first buckets of the second half on a layup by Gerald Ford and free throws by Estes to cut the War Eagles' lead to seven. It was the closest Gainesville would get the rest of the game.
The Red Elephants made a late run thanks again to full-court pressure and baskets by Dockery and Estes but, as per usual Friday night, Parker Smith nipped momentum in the bud with a timely 3-pointer.
Estes finished the game with a team-high 18 points.
"We are just starting to get our feet under us and just starting to gather momentum," said Triaga, "but it's a good step for us to reach back and play with the energy we need to play with."
Chestatee travels to Lakeview Academy tonight while Gainesville next plays East Hall at East Hall on Tuesday night.
Gainesville girls 55, Chestatee 33
Using a balanced scoring attack, eight of the 11 roster players scored, the Lady Red Elephants soundly beat Chestatee on Friday night in Gainesville.
Up by only one point at the end of the first quarter, Gainesville's Kiana Glasper decided to take matters into her own hands scoring eight straight points on two layups, a free throw and a 3-point basket to give her team a 22-11 lead.
The Lady Red Elephants went on a 14-5 run to end the half with Glasper as the catalyst and went into the lockeroom up 24-14.
Glasper finished the game with 10 points.
Gainesville's junior point guard Taylor Ricketts hit two 3-pointers to open the second half setting the tone for the route that would ensue for the remainder of the game.
Ricketts finished with nine points.
Jaymee Carnes had 10 points for Gainesville while also racking up six rebounds, two blocks and three steals.
Chestatee was led by Peyton Robertson and Kasey Smith who each had 10 points.
The Lady Red Elephants next travel to East Hall at 6 p.m. Tuesday while the Lady War Eagles travel to Lakeview Academy at 6 p.m. tonight.