GAINESVILLE -- Still a work in progress under first-year coach Benjie Wood, the Gainesville boys basketball team showed, at least for eight minutes, what it is capable of.
The Red Elephants, sparked by a passionate defensive effort and unselfish ball movement on offense, used a 19-6 run to open the third quarter to break a halftime tie with Winder-Barrow and then held off a late charge by the Bulldoggs for a 63-52, Region 8-AAAAA win Tuesday night at home.
Gainesville (11-8, 5-6 Region 8-AAAAA) scored more points in the third quarter (24) than it did in a non-Picasso-like first half (23) for both teams.
"(The first half) wasn't pretty and we had some stretches in the second half that weren't real good," Wood said. "But we came out with a lot more passion in the third quarter and showed what kind of team we can be. We just need to be more consistent and that is what we're working on every day.
"But we played hard the whole game. It's a win and we can build on it."
Junior Luke Maddox provided the biggest spark in the third quarter with two steals and scoring eight consecutive points in a 2:30 stretch as the Elephants took a 23-all tie out to a 37-29 lead. Winder-Barrow (7-12, 2-9) would only get as close as five the rest of the way.
"I thought Luke played a real nice game," Wood said. "He made some plays in the third quarter to get us going. Again, if we could just get efforts from everyone like that consistently."
Gainesville's big run gave the Elephants a 42-29 lead and they would take a 47-34 lead into the fourth quarter. Two free throws by Maddox with 6:07 left in the game gave Gainesville its biggest lead at 53-38 and things looked in hand.
But the Bulldoggs did not go away. They used an 11-2 run to get within 54-49 on a 3-pointer by Dre King and had a chance to cut the lead to four with 1:33 left but missed a pair of free throws.
The Elephants showed their Jekyll-andHyde ways at the free throw line as well. They were just 17-of-31 for the game but hit 13-of-18 in the fourth quarter, including going 9-of-10 in the final two minutes to ice the game.
Maddox finished with 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and four steals to lead Gainesville, which has won seven of its last nine games overall. Nam Van Dolm added 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists, Jay Gaudlock added 11 points, and Ithello Cross had nine rebounds to go with five points for the Elephants.
It was a sloppy first half for the offenses as the two teams combined for 20 turnovers. Winder-Barrow led the entire first quarter as King drained two 3-pointers for a 6-2 lead. The Bulldoggs' biggest lead was 10-5 midway through the first period.
Gainesville would finally take its first lead moments into the second quarter when a Maddox 3-pointer capped a 6-0 run. The two teams would then trade the lead six more times in the second quarter.
The Elephants took their biggest lead of the half at 19-16 on a Maddox basket but Winder-Barrow retook the lead with a 7-0 burst in just over a minute for a 23-19 lead with 1:48 left in the half. Gainesville closed out the half with four straight points, including a stick-back layup by Van Dolm to tie the game at 23 with 20 seconds left.
Bryson Hamilton paced Winder-Barrow with 11 points, three rebounds, and three assists. King finished nine points on three 3-pointers and Brandon Hayes had nine points and 10 rebounds for the Bulldoggs.
GAINESVILLE GIRLS 58
The Lady Elephants forced 28 turnovers, including 11 steals, and trailed just once, 1-0, in getting a Region 8-AAAAA win at home.
Gainesville (15-4, 9-2 Region 8-AAAAA) maintained its slim hold on second place in the region behind Salem. The Lady Elephants are just one-half game ahead of Clarke Central.
Against Winder, Bessie Winston scored to give Gainesville a 2-1 lead and the Lady Elephants would not trail again. They blew the game open in the second quarter.
Leading just 8-7 after Winder's Adrianna Davis scored on a layup, the Lady Elephants went on a 16-4 run, powered by four steals from the defense. Five players scored four points each in the quarter for Gainesville, which would take a 32-15 lead into halftime.
Gainesville opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run and then cruised the rest of the way.
Winston paced Gainesville with eight points. Taylor Hawks added seven points and five assists and Shikiya Brown, Tanai Watson, Kayla Kelly, and Sophia Jackson each scored six points for the Lady Elephants.
Shea Mayweather led Winder-Barrow (6-12, 3-8) with 11 points. Davis finished with four points and seven rebounds for the Lady Bulldoggs.