Last month the Buchholz boys basketball team snapped an eight-game losing streak to Eastside.
On Friday night at The Purple Palace, it was Gainesville High’s turn.
GHS jumped out to a 17-point lead early in the second quarter and held off the Rams, 45-36, on Friday night at home.
The win snapped a 7-game losing streak to their rival.
“We obviously got off to a great start and then just couldn’t buy a bucket in the second quarter and started turning it over,” said first-year GHS coach Mike Barnes. “Eastside is famous for taking charges and they did that in the second quarter, and we didn’t adjust really well with that. We were lucky to come out of here with a win.”
Gainesville (11-7) built a 23-6 lead following a Seth Childers basket early in the second quarter. However, Eastside finished the half strong.
The Rams’ Calvin Cooper, the only senior in the starting lineup for either team, scored seven of his nine points in the second quarter as the Rams went on a 12-2 run to make it a 7-point game, 25-18, with 2:20 to play in the half.
“We played great,” said Eastside coach Pop Williams, who started two freshmen, a sophomore and a junior alongside Cooper. “I was very surprised. We gave them a lot of second shots. The kids were kind of fatigued because we hadn’t practiced, but GHS played well.”
Gainesville only led 25-20 at the half, but junior Theo Stephens had his own 5-0 run to start the third quarter to give the ‘Canes a double-digit lead again at 30-20.
“We start off slow every third quarter, so I took it upon myself to come out and give us some energy,” said Stephens, who finished with a game-high 14 points. “Our team came together, and we came out with the victory.”
Junior Vontrell Hankison followed with an ‘and one’ for a 33-20 lead and junior R.J. Hines hit a free throw to make it 34-20.
However, the Rams closed the quarter on an 8-0 run to get back in the game.
Junior Ben Davis hit a trey to break the scoring drought, which lasted until there was 3:47 to play in the quarter, to make it 34-23.
Then sophomore Mike Cottrell scored five of his six points in the quarter to close the gap to six at 34-28 at the end of the third quarter.
Gainesville outscored Eastside, 11-8, in the fourth quarter to get the win.
“There were a few shaky moments there that had my blood pressure up a little bit, but again they seem to be a lot calmer under pressure,” Barnes said. “They handled their business tonight. It wasn’t pretty but it was a physical game and like I said we were lucky to come out of here.”
Due to COVID-19, the Rams had not played since a 53-42 loss to Carrollwood Day (Tampa) on New Year’s Day at former Gator Dan Cross’ shootout. Wednesday was their first practice of the new year.
“We didn’t hit many shots, but we really started taking it to the basket and tried to push them up the floor a lot, so I think that worked to our advantage,” Williams said. “But then you could tell we were kind of winded.”
Cooper and freshman Kelvin Baker each finished with nine points for the Rams, who will travel to St. Francis Catholic Academy on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
The Rams dropped to 3-10 but there were some positives to take away from the game.
“GHS was at home and we kept it close so I’m proud of them,” Williams said.
Childers, who picked up three offensive charges and played most of the second half with four fouls, finished with 11 points to give the ‘Canes two players in double-figures.
It was the fifth win in the last six games for Gainesville, which will host city rival P.K. Yonge on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast online at MainStreetDailyNews.com.
“We lost to P.K. the first time but we’ve got them back here at home,” Barnes said. “They’re playing really well. They play one of our district teams (Ocala Forest) tomorrow, so we’ll be sure to go watch them and scout them out a little bit and try to execute the game plan on Wednesday.”