Posted: Friday, January 30th 2009 at 11:48pm
Basketball: GHS boys take over top spot in 7B-AAA
By Jeff Hart Staff
Gainesville's George Manomano scored 20 points in a win over Flowery Branch on Friday in Gainesville.
GAINESVILLE –- In the first major skirmish for control of the Region 7B-AAA subregion, Gainesville put on a tremendous first quarter shooting exhibition to take a quick lead and then held on in the second half to beat Flowery Branch 76-71 Friday night at the Gainesville gym.
The two teams came in tied for the subregion lead with the Falcons holding the early tiebreaker over the Elephants by virtue of their 70-68 win two weeks ago. Gainesville (10-8, 5-1 7B-AAA) has now won six straight games since the loss to the Falcons. The loss snapped the Falcons’ (10-8, 4-2) two-game win streak.
“It was a huge game for both teams but we really needed to win this one,” Gainesville coach Todd Cottrell said. “A second loss to them would have made it very tough (to win the subregion).”
In the early going the Elephants definitely looked like they wanted it more outrebounding Flowery Branch 13-3 in the opening period as they ran out to a 28-8 lead. Gainesville came out red-hot to start the game hitting 9-of-12 shots in the first five minutes. Flowery Branch, meanwhile, struggled early with six turnovers in its first eight possessions and only two shots.
“The difference in the game was the intensity,” Flowery Branch coach Duke Mullis said. “Gainesville came out with a lot of it and we didn’t. Unfortunately we have had a pattern of slow starts and you can’t do that against really good teams. It caught up with us tonight.”
“I thought we came out ready to play and the guys did a great job early of playing defense and executing on offense,” Cottrell said. “But we knew they could come back. I was proud of how we handled ourselves at the end.”
The Falcons finally did get going in the second quarter using a 10-2 run to pull within 34-21. The Falcons took advantage of Gainesville foul trouble hitting 13-of-16 free throws in the second quarter to cut the lead to 39-27 by halftime.
Flowery Branch kept the hot streak going to begin the third quarter with five quick points to cut the lead to 39-32. But after a Gainesville timeout the Elephants exploded for a 15-2 run and appeared to put the game out of reach with a 54-34 lead in the third quarter.
But the Falcons’ Josh Barrett caught fire scoring 12 straight points, capping a 17-0 run with two free throws following a technical foul on Gainesville, to cut the Elephants’ lead to 54-51. Flowery Branch, however, would not get any closer as Gainesville’s Blake Sims took over scoring nine of his team-high 24 points in the final quarter.
Cottrell said it was the closest to 100 percent Sims has been since the end of the football season.
“We try to put the ball in the hands of the guys who are our best shooters. Blake is just about (at 100 percent) and he can make things happen for us,” Cottrell said. “But we feel like we have a lot of guys who can step up for us. Blake did a good job for us tonight.”
The game turned into a free throw contest down the stretch. While Flowery Branch won the free throw battle hitting 30-of-42 for the game, Gainesville hit 7-of-8 in the final minute to maintain a seven to 10-point lead. The Elephants hit 12-of-17 in the fourth quarter and finished the game hitting 15-of-22.
George Manomano had 20 points and four rebounds for Gainesville. D.J. McDuffie added eight points for the Elephants. Sims also pulled down five rebounds.
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