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High school basketball: Gainesville moves past Cherokee Bluff to advance to Lanierland championship game
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Gainesville's Walt Dixon attempts to drive to the basket during a Lanierland semifinal game against Cherokee Bluff on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019 at Johnson High School. - photo by Nathan Berg

The Gainesville boys basketball team will once again have an opportunity to play for a Lanierland title.

After hanging around with Cherokee Bluff for the better part of three quarters Saturday evening at Johnson High School, the Red Elephants exploded late, running away with a 68-48 victory to punch their ticket to Monday's championship game.

Robert Reisman scored 16 points to lead the way for Gainesville, while Donsha Gaither added 15.

Gainesville stormed out to an early lead, starting the game off on an energetic 8-2 run that set the tone of the opening quarter. Cherokee Bluff responded with a 3 from Palmer Weaver and a 5-point run from Bosko Norman, but a late layup from Datavian Buffington and a trey from Lake Shelton right at the end of the frame put the Red Elephants back up by 7 points eight minutes into the game. 

Griffin Neville scored a quick 7 points in the second period to get Cherokee Bluff back into it, but each time the Bears seemed to be closing the gap, Gainesville would respond with a run of its own. A Jacob Carlson layup from right under the basket cut the deficit to just 3 points with about two minutes to play before the break, but the Red Elephants finished the half off with a 7-1 run — capped off by a Robert Reisman runner right at the buzzer — to go up 33-24 at halftime.

Cherokee Bluff started out the second half on a high note, getting a 3 from Jason Evrett and getting the deficit down to 6 points, but the Red Elephants managed to constantly hold off the Bears' comeback attempts. Buffington closed out the third quarter with a layup while being fouled inside the final 15 seconds and connected on the free throw to push the lead back to 10 going into the final quarter, and it was all Gainesville from there.

The Red Elephants started off the fourth frame on a 11-4 run that pushed their lead to 17, and Cherokee Bluff never really had another chance to mount a counter attack. Gainesville closed out the game by scoring the final 8 points of the contest to finish things off on a high note going into the championship game.

The Red Elephants will battle West Hall for the Lanierland title on Monday evening at Cherokee Bluff High School. 


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