Prior to Gainesville High’s early season showdown on Tuesday night against visiting Class 4A state runner-up Santa Fe (Alachua), first-year coach Mike Barnes noted that one of the keys to victory was to score one more point than the Raiders.
The Hurricanes did just that as junior Vontrell Hankerson hit a shot before the buzzer in overtime for a 62-61 win in front of an energized crowd at The Purple Palace.
“I wish I was wrong on that, but that’s something Coach [Kelly] Beckham always used to say, ‘we’ve just got to outscore them by one,’ so I’m glad it went in our favor this time,” Barnes said.
Barnes is in his first season as head coach, taking over for Beckham who retired after 39 years of coaching.
“He’s been phenomenal,” said junior guard Seth Childers of the Hurricanes’ first-year coach. “He’s just done a great job. He’s probably the hardest worker that we have. I love him as a head coach.”
Childers finished with 10 points, played lock-down defense, and also had the game-winning assist.
“He’s a leader,” Barnes said of Childers. “The whole time he was in the game I was thinking we need to get him out and give him some rest, but deep down I knew we had to have him out there because I knew he is an extension of myself. He just kind of controls things when he’s out there.”
Childers drained two shots behind the arc in the third quarter to help bring the Hurricanes (2-0) within two at 40-38 heading into the final quarter.
“Honestly, it just came down to who wanted it more,” said Childers, who was named the Sonic Drive-In Player of the Game. “It was a dog fight from the jump and I just think my guys wanted it more. We knew what we were battling coming in here, we had a good game plan from Coach Barnes, and I think we simply just wanted it more than them.”
Junior Theo Stephens led GHS with 19 points, followed by junior Jordan Bodie with 13, and Hankerson and Childers with 10-apiece.
Santa Fe was led by junior Mason Brown with 15 points, followed by junior Dontrell Jenkins with 13 and junior Makhi Lewis with 12.
“We had several chances to put the game away but we didn’t do the little things it takes to win,” said first-year Santa Fe coach Glen Banks. We have a lot of work to do defensively. Hats off to GHS. They made all the plays to win.”
Gainesville will travel to Williston on Thursday, while Santa Fe (0-2) will host Buchholz (Gainesville) on Friday.