OAKWOOD — When the shooting isn’t quite up to par, Gainesville girls basketball coach Manson Hill feels like he can always fall back on a scrappy defensive effort to pull out the close games.
Such was the case on Tuesday in an important Region 8B-AAA battle at West Hall.
Even though the Lady Red Red Elephants battled poor shooting, the defense was more than enough to compensate and led to a 30-19 victory against the Lady Spartans.
“We go by the motto, ‘defense, hustle and teamwork,” Hill said. “Those are three things you can control.
“The shooting is going to come and go, and we didn’t shoot very well tonight, but you can always control how you play on defense.”
In the boys game, West Hall cruised to a 77-57 win.
According to Hill, this is an especially important win with games against solid Oconee County and Walnut Grove programs remaining this week. He feels like this week will set the tone for what kind of season the Lady Red Elephants (6-7, 2-0) will have during the region slate.
“This should be one of our biggest weeks of the season,” said Gainesville junior Rebecca Webster, who led the team with a game-high 13 points. “I feel good about our team because we’re coming off the break and have our legs fresh.
“Now we just have to keep going out there and giving it our all.”
One of Hill’s points of pride against the Lady Spartans (5-10, 0-2) was the fact that they kept Tori Alfredsson, a 3-point threat, from having too many clear shots. In fact, after Alfredsson hit a 3-pointer with 6:54 left in the opening half, the Lady Red Elephants kept West Hall from scoring for an 18-minute stretch, which included a 10-0 run by Gainesville in the third quarter.
“I just commend Gainesville for doing a super job tonight,” West Hall coach Lynn Jarrett said. “On
defense, they mixed it up and that got us frustrated.
“And then we couldn’t make a shot.”
Trailing 13-11 after halftime, Webster went to work with four quick points to give the Lady Red Elephants a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Following that, Mikalyn DeFoor knocked down a pair of free throws for Gainesville, and then hit a 3-pointer with 2 minutes left in the third period that gave the Lady Red Elephants a 20-13 lead.
Not only did DeFoor score seven big points for the Lady Red Elephants, but she hit 4 of 5 free throw attempts.
“We gave it a really good effort tonight,” said Webster. “Even though we didn’t shoot the ball well, we just stayed positive and kept the momentum.”
For West Hall, Amber Johnson was the leading scorer with four points.
The Lady Red Elephants host Oconee County at 7 p.m. on Friday, and the Lady Spartans visit Johnson at 7 on Friday.
WEST HALL BOYS 77, GAINESVILLE 57: The Spartans had a pair of huge individual efforts, while the Red Elephants were without two key components.
Shunquez Stephens, a senior, led West Hall (11-3, 2-0 Region 8B-AAA) with 25 points, while William Stroup poured in 13 points to match his 13 rebounds for the Spartans. Meanwhile, Gainesville was without senior power forward A.J. Johnson, who is playing in the Under Armour All-Star football game in Orlando, Fla., and head coach Todd Cottrell, who is serving the second game of his two-game suspension for an ejection during the Lanierland tournament.
Most importantly for Spartans, coach Warren Sellers said this game atoned for the meeting between these two teams at Lanierland when West Hall led by 16 after three quarters, only to lose 64-62.
“We got rid of some bad memories with this one,” Sellers said.
Before halftime, Stephens had his most impressive play of the night when he hurried to rebound a ball underneath the basket and flipped it with both hands from around his shoes and in for the basket.
“The best thing about that play was that he didn’t give up,” Sellers said. “The horn was about to blow and he was still hustling.”
In the fourth quarter, as Gainesville started to chip away on the Spartans’ lead, Stroup scored a pair of quick baskets, along with some key rebounds on the defensive end. Jarquise Young finished with 12 points for the Spartans.
For Gainesville (8-4, 1-1) Ke’Odric Sadler scored a team-high 13 points and freshman Deshaun Watson added 10.
West Hall goes to Johnson at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, and Gainesville hosts Oconee County at 8:30 on Friday.