Senior Gainesville guard Maurice Hector was not thinking about the legacy he would leave behind coming into Saturday night’s Lanierland final against East Hall — the last Hall County tournament of his career. But when the final buzzer went off to seal his team’s 70-62 win over the Vikings, the gravity of what he and the rest of the senior class had accomplished started to set in.
The Red Elephants’ Lanierland championship win marked Gainesville’s third straight, and assured that each senior on the team finished their careers undefeated at the event.
“Once that final buzzer sounded, it hit home quite a bit,” Hector said. “It was really sentimental to us, me and Brent Kelly and Rassie Littlejohn and Silas Wood. We really appreciate this win.”
Hector was the driving force behind the Gainesville (7-6) win. He scored 18 points, hitting six 3-pointers — three of those in the fourth quarter.
“I’m so proud of that kid,” Gainesville coach Chuck Graham said. “That kid waited his turn. There’s something to be said about when a kid just continues to work. He never complained. He was always working on his shot. And now he’s seeing the benefits of that.”
Kylan Curry scored 14 for East Hall (9-7) in the loss.
The Red Elephants benefited from a strong finish, but to start, they appeared greatly outmatched against the athletic Viking squad. East Hall scored the first five points of the game, and ended the opening quarter on a 6-0 run that gave it a 15-8 advantage after the first eight minutes.
Gainesville surged back in the second though, getting a pair of Hector 3s and a trio of buckets from Jordan Williams in the post. A Robert Reisman trey with less than 30 seconds to go until halftime gave the Red Elephants a one-point lead heading into the break.
Gainesville jumped all over East Hall in the third quarter, starting the half on a 10-2 run and outscoring the Vikings 17-7 over the course of the eight-minute period.
“The challenge was to match (East Hall’s) intensity level,” Graham said. “I thought our guys did a great job of that.”
The Red Elephants entered the final quarter up by 11, and Hector made sure his team finished off the win.
He hit his first trey of the frame early — a response to a Kylan Curry 3 on the other end of the court. His second 3-pointer came just seconds after TJ Campbell hit one for East Hall, about midway through the game’s last period.
The third was a dagger.
With Gainesville leading by 13 and barely more than two minutes left to play, Hector drilled a 3-pointer from the corner that gave the Red Elephants a 16-point advantage — their biggest of the night.
The lead proved insurmountable for the Vikings, as Gainesville easily finished things off from there.
Hector said the performance was the result of hard work, “trusting the process” and shooting 500 3-pointers a day in practice.
“Repetition, repetition, repetition,” he said. “That’s how you get that result.”