Williston stuns GHS, sweeps series

Williston's Greg Maxwell takes an offensive charge against Gainesville's S.J. Westrbook in the first quarter on Tuesday.
Williston's Greg Maxwell takes an offensive charge against Gainesville's SJ Westrbook in the first quarter on Tuesday. (Photo by C.J. Gish)
Photo by C.J. Gish

Last month, the Williston boys basketball team held Gainesville High to a season-low in points in a 54-46 win at home.

On Tuesday night at the Purple Palace, the visiting Red Devils clamped down even more.

Junior Quincy Parker (10 points) hit two free throws with 10 seconds remaining as Williston, which built an early 11-0 lead, held on for a 43-41 win on the road to sweep the two-game series.

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“We talked about it in the pregame, how disciplined we could be on both ends of the court, and offensively we were very disciplined and very efficient I thought all night long,” said Williston coach Jim Ervin. “An 11-0 start, it’s a game changer usually.”

Gainesville's Vontrell Hankison keeps a rebound away from Williston's Kyler Lamb (10) and Reggie White (0) on Tuesday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Gainesville’s Vontrell Hankison keeps a rebound away from Williston’s Kyler Lamb (10) and Reggie White (0) on Tuesday.

Senior Greg Maxwell’s 3-pointer with 4:16 to play in the opening quarter, followed by baskets by Parker and junior Kyler Lamb extended it to double digits with 2:28 remaining.

Gainesville didn’t score until senior Theo Stephens hit two free throws with 2:08 to play in the quarter to make it 11-2.

“We battled back but we just had trouble putting the ball in the basket to start the game,” said Gainesville coach Mike Barnes. “Credit to Williston, they battled and were able to pull it out. We just didn’t have it tonight.”

GHS (16-6), which is ranked No. 8 in Class 6A by MaxPreps, cut it to a six-point game, 13-7, at the end of the first quarter. A layup by junior Elijah Williams brought the Hurricanes within four points, 13-9, early in the second.

However, the Red Devils (16-6), who are ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, got it back above 10 points.

Lamb, who scored all eight of his points in the first half, extended the lead to 11 at 24-13 with 2:39 to play in the half.

Two free throws by senior Vontrell Hankison and one by Stephens cut the deficit to eight, 24-16, with 1:38 to play in the half, but Williston scored the final five points of the half.

Maxwell, who scored his team-high 12 points in the first half, extended it to 26-16 and a 3-pointer by senior Jaythian Merced with 46 seconds to play in the half gave the visitors a 29-16 lead at the break.

But Gainesville wasn’t done yet.

The Hurricanes had their own 11-0 run to start the second half.

Stephens scored Gainesville’s first five points to cut it to single digits, 29-21, just two minutes into the third quarter.

Senior Seth Childers scored to make it 29-23 and senior SJ Westbrook’s bucket cut it to four, 29-25.

Williston went half of the third quarter without a point and, following a Gainesville miss, App State signee Josh Hayes (10 points) threw down a two-handed dunk to cut it to two, 29-27, with four minutes to play in the quarter.

But that’s as close as GHS would get until Stephens made 1-of-2 free throws with 11 seconds to play to make it a 2-point game, 41-39, setting up Parker’s game-clinching free throws.

“I’ve got to really call out (6’6) Javon Brown,” Ervin said. “He did a great job on a big kid (6’9 Hayes) out there all night long. He did his job on the defensive end tonight and I think that was a big difference in the basketball game. You hold a Gainesville High team to 41 points, you’re going to win games if you keep teams in the 40s.”

Brown (six points) also made two big baskets in the fourth quarter for a 37-31 lead and a layup for a 41-36 advantage.

Gainesville did have one last opportunity late.

Stephens (game-high 16 points) scored with 1.5 seconds to play and got fouled. He intentionally missed the free throw and Hayes got the rebound underneath the basket.

Hayes appeared to get fouled on a putback but the whistle didn’t blow and the Red Devils defeated the Hurricanes for the third time in the last four meetings.

“I just think we kind of ran out of gas and didn’t finish some shots down low that we usually make,” said Barnes, who noted that the Hurricanes were 0-for-9 behind the arc in the first half. “We just shot terribly.”

Ervin was complimentary of his opponent after the game.

“Gainesville High, what a team they have,” he said. “They’re talented at all positions. Coach does a great job, it’s just an outstanding program. It’s a tough loss for them, on their home court, and a questionable call at the end. Good luck to them in the playoffs. They’re going to go deep.”

Williston, which lost on a buzzer-beater on Monday night at 1A No. 5 Newberry, will host Bronson for Senior Night on Friday at 7:30 p.m., while GHS will host city rival Buchholz.

The GHS-Buchholz game will be broadcast online (audio only) at MainStreetDailyNews.com beginning at 7:15 p.m.

Gainesville's Anthony Leivonen saves a loose ball against Williston on Tuesday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Gainesville’s Anthony Leivonen saves a loose ball against Williston on Tuesday.

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