The Gainesville boys basketball team bounced back from a slow start against Habersham Central and fought off a late Raiders surge to secure a 62-54 win to start off the region schedule. The victory pushes the Red Elephants win streak to four games following an 0-10 start to the year.
“Our guys found a way to win the game,” Gainesville coach Chuck Graham said. “We did a lot of good things. Any time you can get a region win is huge, especially when you get one at home.”
Walt Dixon scored 16 for Gainesville, and nine different players made appearances on the scoresheet to supplement the full team effort.
The Red Elephants started the game off a bit slow on offense, managing just 9 points in the opening quarter, but holding Habersham Central to only 5 to stay ahead early. But Gainesville started to knock down shots in the second quarter and managed to pull away a little bit right before halftime.
Eli Pitts and Robert Reisman combined to connect on a trio of 3s in the period, and the defense held strong to help the Red Elephants jump out in front. Reisman’s deep-range shot right at the buzzer put Gainesville on top 27-17 at the halftime break.
The Raiders managed to hold the deficit there for much of the third quarter as the teams exchanged baskets back-and-forth, but a put-back layup from Dixon and a pair of corner 3s from Lake Shelton in the last two minutes of the frame helped Gainesville to jump out in front by 14 going into the last eight minutes of the contest.
Habersham Central started the fourth quarter with a pair of 7-0 runs separated by a couple made shots from Donsha Gaither to briefly threaten the Red Elephant advantage, but 6 quick points from Dixon in the post through the middle of the period put Gainesville back up by double digits and put the comeback bid to rest. Late dunks from Dixon and Gaither put the finishing touches on the team’s successful start to the region slate.
“I just like the cohesiveness right now, and the scoreboard is taking care of itself,” Graham said of Gainesville’s current winning streak. “One thing has remained constant: the guys have never wavered on their effort level in practice. Believing in what we do is half the battle. Now we’ve got them believing them in themselves. We’re on the way.”
GAINESVILLE GIRLS 60, HABERSHAM CENTRAL 53: Freshman guard Zaria Williams scored 22 for the Lady Red Elephants and Lauren Teasley added 18 to lift Gainesville to the win in its first region game of the year.
The Lady Red Elephants struggled early in the contest, as Habersham Central jumped out to a 19-5 lead in the first quarter, but 3s from Williams and Shya Martin right before the end of the period helped to slow the Lady Raiders’ momentum. Gainesville battled into the lead right before halftime thanks in large part to 3-pointers from Williams, Teasley and Sadie Roach and an 18-6 run that spanned the bulk of the frame.
The two teams exchanged a couple of big runs in the third quarter, but a pair of traditional 3-point plays from Teasley and Williams early in the fourth helped to widen the gap. Gainesville finished off the game 4 for 6 from the free throw line in the final minute to close the door on the region win.
“The whole level of our play went up tonight,” Gainesville coach Alan Griffin said. “I feel like we played probably our best all around game. Our team defense was so good. I felt like that was really the difference for us.”