GHS boys hoops advance to district semifinals

GHS eliminates Buchholz in 6A-District 2
GHS eliminates Buchholz in 6A-District 2

The Gainesville boys’ basketball team kept its season alive with a 45-33 win against rival Buchholz in the Class 6A-District 2 quarterfinals at the Purple Palace on Tuesday night.

GHS held the Bobcats to just four points in the opening quarter and led 17-13 at the half.

“Defensively, the guys actually followed through on our game plan perfectly and took away those open 3s and we did a good job of not letting the guards get in the paint,” said GHS coach Kelly Beckham, who won his 798th career game.

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Senior Justus Wilburn led the Hurricanes (10-11) with 15 points.

“It feels amazing,” Wilburn said. “Last year we were in this same position and got sent home early. It was a devastating loss, so it feels good.”

S.J. Westbrook hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter to give the ‘Canes a 33-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

“Hard to win a game when you score 33 points and shoot 20 percent,” said Buchholz first-year coach George Atohi. “It just seemed we couldn’t get out of our own way. They just played better than us.”

Junior Aamari Reeves led the way with eight points for Buchholz, which finished the season at 8-10.

“We only had two seniors, so we have a lot to build off of,” Athoi said. “To start 2-7 and finish 8-10, I’ll take that. I’ve got a lot coming back.”

GHS will travel to Lincoln High School (Tallahassee) on Wednesday to face top seed Columbia (Lake City), which received a bye.

“Columbia is a great team,” Wilburn said. “They’re tall, athletic, fast, strong. We have to make them play our game and control the pace of the game, play smart, play how we did tonight, and we’ll be fine.”

The Tigers defeated the Hurricanes, 61-42, on Jan. 12. Columbia (17-4) is ranked fifth in the state in Class 6A by MaxPreps and has won nine games in a row.

“We’re going to have to shoot it a lot better than we did tonight and we’re going to have to defend really well,” Beckham said.

The tip is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

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