It didn’t take long for the Gainesville girls basketball team to take control of its Class 6A-District 2 championship game against Chiles (Tallahassee).
The Lady Hurricanes built an 11-0 lead in the first quarter and never trailed in a 52-37 win to give head coach Jazlynd Rollins a district title in her first season.
“I think them just coming out being mentally prepared to play, being mentally prepared to punch first, and we got the job done,” Rollins said.
Sophomore Jayden Terry scored eight of her game-high 19 points in the opening quarter.
“It’s honestly amazing,” Terry said on winning the district title. “One of my biggest accomplishments, along with my 1,000 points this season. It’s been a great season, so it feels really good.”
Terry, who scored her 1,000th point in a 67-50 win against Lincoln (Tallahassee) in the district semifinals, scored on a layup at the buzzer as GHS (14-7) built an 18-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“I think they all played really well, Jayden especially,” Rollins said. “She’s levelheaded, she knows how to handle the ball and bring it up the floor so tonight she did that.”
With 3:58 to play in the first quarter, senior Leyah Houston made a free throw to give GHS the 11-0 lead.
“Normally we start off slow so today our main focus was to start off fast and keep the pace going throughout the whole game,” Houston said.
Even after Chloe McElroy scored Chiles’ first points with 3:23 remaining to make it 11-2, Gainesville senior Breanna Evans answered with a 3-pointer for a 14-2 lead, followed by a layup by Terry to go up 16-2.
Turnovers plagued Chiles in the first half, especially with opportunities to get it back to single digits.
Chiles (20-6) cut it to 18-8 and trailed 22-12 but turned it over and, with 4:18 to play in the half, was unable each time to get it under 10.
Terry made a free throw to extend the lead to 11 and then Evans made a free throw for a 24-12 lead. She missed the second free throw but got her own rebound. That led to a layup by senior Ta’Niyah Walker for a 26-12 advantage.
Then with 25 seconds to play in the half, Houston made two free throws to give the Lady Hurricanes their largest lead at 28-12 before a late basket by Chiles to make it 28-14 at the half.
The second half was much the same as Terry hit a 3-pointer and had her own 5-0 run to give GHS a 33-14 advantage.
The lead ballooned to 23 at 43-20 on another layup by Terry with just over a minute to play in the third quarter, ensuring there would be no second half comeback by the Timberwolves.
Gainesville was much quicker, and they crashed the boards.
“I thought they would be a little bit taller, but it helped us a lot because it was to our advantage,” Rollins said about her team’s ability to rebound.
Houston and Walker (8 points) each had seven rebounds while Evans (7 points) finished with six.
Gainesville will host a first-round playoff game on Thursday. The Hurricanes entered the game as the No. 3 seed in Region 1.
“I expect us to have a challenge, but I expect us to pull through,” Rollins said. “If we come in and work hard, remember what we practiced, remember what we’re here for, we’ll come out on top.”
They’re peaking at the right time with six consecutive victories (one via forfeit).
“We play all four quarters,” Rollins said. “We don’t give up. I’m not going to give up, they’re not going to give up, and we’re just going to keep playing all the way through.”