The Gainesville boys basketball team seems to have hit their stride in recent weeks.
Friday night on the road against city rival Eastside, the Hurricanes’ defense made up for an off night offensively as Gainesville picked up their third straight win over the Rams, 48-40.
Gainesville (14-4) won its sixth game in a row while Eastside dropped to 9-7.
The first quarter was ugly offensively. Gainesville scored the first seven points the opening minute and a half, but then again didn’t score again the rest of the period.
But the Rams could only manage five points and the score heading into the second period sounded like a baseball game at 7-5.
“We scored seven points pretty quickly there and we were stuck on that the rest of the quarter,” Gainesville coach Mike Barnes said. “I’m not really sure what it was but their (Eastside’s) 1-2-2 press slowed us down a bit and we couldn’t buy a bucket late in that quarter.”
The Hurricanes picked up the pace a bit in the second quarter. Senior S.J. Westbrook scored six of his game-high 15 points in the period as Gainesville outscored Eastside 19-9 in the quarter and took a 26-14 halftime lead.
“He (S.J.) played really well the other night against Columbia,” Barnes said. “He’s played really well the last few games, and he does the dirty work for us and always plays hard.”
The Rams battled back in the third quarter with 16 points in the period behind senior Javion Douglas’s seven points and senior Shelton Hall’s five. But Hayes took over inside with six and Gainesville took a 41-30 lead into the final period.
“It’s been an added bonus and kind of unexpected with he (Hayes) transferring in,” Barnes said. “He does things that really don’t show up in the stat book. Other teams get in the paint and see him and try to turn the other way or find someone else on a kickout.”
Eastside made a run in the final period but only got within six points. Gainesville only scored seven points in the fourth quarter but their defense stepped up to finish off the win.
Despite the loss, Eastside has already won more than twice as many games as last season when the Rams finished 4-17.
“Last year was a tough year for them (Eastside),” Barnes said. “Clearly they’ve been working hard and doing a good job with them and coaching them up. It was a battle tonight and I know it will be a battle next time we see them.”
The two teams will meet again at the Purple Palace on Feb. 3.
Westbrook’s 15 points led the way for Gainesville, with Hayes adding 13 points and 8 rebounds and Stephens chipping in 10 points and nine rebounds. Senior Seth Childers had six assists.
Hall led the Rams with 15 points and Douglas added 12.
Gainesville returns to action next Tuesday at P.K. Yonge and Eastside is at Buchholz on Thursday.
Both games will be broadcast online on MainStreetDailyNews.com.