Gainesville's Lanierland title defense could not have gotten off to a much better start. After one close quarter Friday evening against Chestatee, the Red Elephants ran away with the game in the second half, dominating the third and fourth frames and closing out a 75-39 win to advance to the second round.
Gainesville's Eli Pitts set the tone early and late in the first frame, starting with a high-flying dunk right off the tip and finishing with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that put the Red Elephants up by a point. In between those buckets, the two teams battled back-and-forth in a quarter that was entertaining as it was competitive.
But it was all Gainesville from there.
The Red Elephants rattled off 14 straight in the second period to jump out to a big lead, which they would never relinquish. Five different Red Elephants contributed to the run, with Dylan Bobga's 5 points the most by any Gainesville player during the stretch. Meanwhile, Chestatee went completely cold on the offensive end, failing to make a shot from the field over the final six minutes of the half and going just 1 of 4 at the free throw line, allowing the Red Elephants to take a 36-24 halftime lead.
The third quarter was even more lopsided, as a pair of Kyle Bowmar 3s were the only scoring Chestatee would do in the frame. Gainesville, meanwhile, kept rolling, getting treys from Pitts, Robert Reisman and Lake Shelton to further increase their advantage. Reisman's 9 points in the frame outscored the War Eagles total for the eight-minute period.
Leading by 29, the fourth quarter was largely a formality for the Red Elephants, as they rolled to their first-round win.
Tomorrow, Gainesville will take on Cherokee Bluff at 8 p.m., at Johnson High School.