Gainesville erased a second-quarter deficit to take the regular season series over city rival Buchholz on Friday night.
With two minutes left in the first half at the Purple Palace, the Gainesville trailed 31-25 to the visiting Bobcats. It was the biggest lead of the game for either team to that point.
But then the Hurricanes turned up the defense, the 3-point shot and was automatic from the free throw line and pulled away for a 76-55 win over Buchholz.
The Hurricanes (17-6) went on a 17-0 run between the second and third quarters, which eventually grew into a 54-35 lead. Gainesville held a 58-44 edge into the final period, and Buchholz only got within 10 points.
“I was proud of the guys in that third quarter,” Gainesville coach Mike Barnes said. “To finish off the half on a good note and then going into the third quarter I thought that was some really good basketball and was fun to watch.”
Senior Theo Stephens led Gainesville with 25 points. Stephens was 4-for-4 from the free throw line and knocked down a three-pointer in the deciding run. He ended with three treys and was a perfect 8-for-8 from the line.
Gainesville hit nine shots from distance, including five in the pivotal third quarter.
“The other night against Williston (43-41 loss) I think we could have shot better if our eyes were closed,” Barnes joked. “I was proud of the guys for flushing that game and coming into this one. We have a confident group.”
Senior Josh Hayes added 15 points for the Hurricanes, junior Anthony Leivonen had 13 and senior Jordan Bodie chipped in 11.
Buchholz (11-12) was led by senior Tyler Gainey with 19 points.
Gainesville won both regular-season meetings with the Bobcats and has beaten Buchholz in 16 of the last 18 games and 30 of 35 games since 2006.
The two teams could meet again in the District 4-6A tournament in two weeks.