Entering Tuesday night’s boys basketball game at P.K. Yonge, Blue Wave coach Boderick Johnson said one of the keys to beating visiting GHS was limiting its turnovers to less than 11.
P.K. Yonge had 16 turnovers, including a Randall Robinson traveling call with 24 seconds to play down four, that helped lead to a 66-58 Hurricanes’ win.
That gave the Class 6A eighth-ranked Hurricanes (15-4) a sweep of the 3A Blue Wave after edging P.K. Yonge in November.
“They played extremely hard,” Johnson said of his team, which battled back from a 16-point fourth quarter deficit, 53-37, to make it a two-possession game late. “We hit five 3s and they hit nine 3s so they were able to hit the trey ball a little bit better, but the effort and the execution down the stretch was what I was looking for. So, I credit GHS. They held serve and I wish them the best the rest of the season.”
A 3-pointer by junior Anthony Leivonen with 5:45 to play gave GHS a 52-37 lead and then Leivonen made one of two free throws for a 53-37 lead with 5:33 remaining.
In fact, P.K. Yonge went over three minutes before scoring its first points of the fourth quarter with 4:48 to play.
But after the slow start, the Blue Wave rallied late.
An and-one by senior Isaiah Cooper (13 points) cut the GHS lead to eight, 59-51, with 2:10 to play.
With 50 seconds to play senior Moses Horne (team-high 17 points) got fouled shooting a 3-pointer and he made all three free throws to close the gap to six at 62-56.
The Hurricanes turned it over on their next possession, which led to two more free throws by Horne as the Blue Wave climbed within four, 62-58, with 43 seconds to play.
But that’s as close as P.K. Yonge would get in the final minute.
“I thought we made it interesting with some of our decisions,” said Gainesville coach Mike Barnes. “It’s a learning process and it’s much better to learn and come out with a win than to feel bad after a game like this.”
It was just a two-possession game late in the third quarter too until GHS made back-to-back 3s.
Senior Theo Stephens hit a 3-pointer for a 44-35 GHS lead with 1:18 to play in the quarter and senior Seth Childers drained his second 3-pointer with 43 seconds left in the third for a 47-35 advantage.
App State signee Josh Hayes (16 points) had two dunks within a 3:30 stretch of the fourth quarter, the last of which gave GHS a 59-45 lead with 3:07 to play.
“We had a nice little stretch there in the third and fourth quarter to kind of stretch it out,” Barnes said. “In order to win these games in the playoffs when we get there it’s something we’ve got to improve on – time, score and situation.”
Early on, the Blue Wave (7-10) led by seven, 12-5, on a layup by senior Isaiah Cooper (13 points) with 3:49 to play in the first quarter.
GHS, which trailed 14-10 at the end of the first quarter, didn’t take its first lead until Stephens scored two of his 11 second quarter points for a 20-19 lead.
Stephens scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the quarter as the Hurricanes extended it to a four-point lead, 30-26, at the half.
Senior Eli Harris added 11 points for P.K. Yonge, which will host Trinity Catholic (Ocala) in a 3A-District 2 game on Friday night.
Gainesville, which will be guests on “The Prep Zone” sports show on Wednesday from 7-8 p.m. (106.9 FM), will travel to Santa Fe (Alachua) on Thursday.