clear
Wednesday May 6th, 2015 7:42PM

Boys basketball: Red Elephants' rebound continues in romp over Branch

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
Related Articles
GAINESVILLE -- It was obvious from the broad smile Shaquan Cantrell wore as he jogged downcourt -- the Gainesville boys basketball team is starting to have some fun.

That might be bad news for the rest of Region 8-AAAAA.

It certainly was for Flowery Branch on Friday, as the Red Elephants exploded in the second half of a 75-54 victory in Gainesville.

"We're starting to get better, and the kids are having fun," Red Elephants coach Todd Cottrell said. "It helps that they're playing pretty well right now."

Cantrell certainly played well in helping Gainesville pull away from the Falcons in the second half, scoring all 18 of his points after halftime, including two 3-pointers and two thunderous dunks. His performance linked perfectly with Deshaun Watson's first half dominance, as the junior put up 15 points early en route to a team-high 20 -- including five 3-pointers.

The Red Elephants (13-9, 7-6 Region 8-AAAAA) used the trey to devastating effect throughout, nailing 11 3-pointers, including eight in the first half as they edged ahead 37-30. Cantrell then hit back-to-back treys to start the third quarter before Chase England drilled one of his own to spark an 11-3 run that yielded a 48-33 advantage -- and more than enough momentum for a Gainesville team that claimed its ninth win in 10 contests.

The Red Elephants' defense also picked up the pace after the interval, holding Flowery Branch to just one field goal in the third quarter.

"They're so well coached that you can't really simulate what they do in practice, you just have to play against it," Cottrell said. "And our guys started getting a feel for it and made some great adjustments on the fly."

Jamaad Stephens put up a game-high 24 for the Falcons (6-15, 4-10), while Nick Wayne added 11, but it wasn't nearly enough to stem the Red Elephants, who surged ahead 62-41 on England's putback with 4:38 remaining and cruised the rest of the way.

"We still have room to improve, and we've got to keep getting better," Cottrell said. "We're about a month behind still (because of football players missing time due to a state playoff run), but that did help us build some depth. And this group has played together for a while. That makes a difference."

Watson looks to be finding his rhythm on the hardwood at just the right time. The star quarterback drained three 3-pointers in the first quarter to help Gainesville offset a strong start from Wayne (with seven first quarter points) and grab a 16-14 lead.

In fact the Red Elephants trailed just once during the contest -- following a three-point play from Stephens and an 11-10 Falcons advantage with 2:47 left in the first quarter. But Gainesville could not pull away in the first half, despite a 3-pointer from Luke Moore, who also finished with 10 points, and a three-point play from Tray Harrison opening up a 30-22 lead midway through the second quarter.

The Red Elephants were only starting to heat up, however, and began to mix their outside shooting with an improved inside presence in the second half, Cantrell, Watson and England each doing the damage to help Gainesville's continued momentum down the stretch and toward the 8-AAAAA tournament.

"The thing right now is that when we play badly, it doesn't extend -- it only lasts for a couple of possessions and not a whole quarter," Cottrell said. "I hope we can keep that up and build on that."

The Red Elephants will look to continue their hot streak at an equally warm Loganville on Tuesday -- a Red Devils team that had won six straight coming into Friday's battle with Clarke Central.

Flowery Branch will look to rebound at East Hall on Saturday in Rabbittown.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Bartus, Icemen shuts out Gwinnett
Garrett Bartus pitched a 42 save shutout, as the Evansville IceMen topped the Gwinnett Gladiators on a New year
10:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Gator Bowl Preview Capsule
A rematch of last year's Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won 45-31 in Orlando.
8:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Millsap's 34 leads Hawks past Celtics
Paul Millsap had season highs with 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Hawks rallied from an 18-point deficit for a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday afternoon.
7:44PM ( 1 year ago )
Sports
Big Red Shootout: Buford foils Lady Elephants' upset bid in finale
Buford junior Camille Anderson knows to forget about the past during games.
11:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Boys basketball: Knights rebound with win over Centennial
The Johnson boys bounced back after a loss to Grayson on Friday with a 94-72 win Saturday night over Centennial in the Duluth Jingle Jam.
10:43PM ( 1 year ago )
Girls basketball: Dawson falls in Battle of States finals
Dawson County fell behind early and could not complete the comeback in a 70-65 loss to Hayesville, N.C. in the championship game of The Battle of the States Tournament Saturday night.
10:38PM ( 1 year ago )
High School Sports
Baseball: Gainesville storms back to take Game 1, 5-4 in 9 innings
The Gainesville baseball team showed determination in abundance on Wednesday, coming from behind twice -- the second time in the bottom of the ninth -- to win Game 1 of its Class AAAAA second round series against Evans 5-4 at Ivey-Watson Field in Gainesville.
10:26PM ( 2 hours from now )
Baseball: Trojans take Game 1 over Upson-Lee
Lincoln Hewett had four hits and two RBI and Brock Wingo added three hits and two RBI to lead North Hall to a 9-0 blowout of Upson-Lee Wednesday in Game 1 of the two teams' best-of-three Class AAAA econd round series at Jody Davis Field.
10:00PM ( 2 hours from now )
RailRaiders snap G-Braves win streak
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, on the strength of a four-run bottom of the fourth inning, beat the Gwinnett Braves 5-3 Wednesday afternoon in the second of a three-game series at PNC Field.
By AccessWDUN staff
3:54PM ( 3 hours ago )
Girls soccer: Lady War Eagles make history, storm into first ever quarterfinals
Mark Dunn keeps watching his retirement drift further and further away. And the Chestatee girls soccer coach is just fine with that...
2:07PM ( 5 hours ago )
Girls soccer: Lady Wolves roll into 3rd round; St. Pius up next (VIDEO)
Buford girls soccer coach Crystal Fowler wanted to see some variety from her offense Tuesday in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs...
12:45PM ( 6 hours ago )