GAINESVILLE — The first skirmish between Region 8-AAAAAA juggernauts Gainesville and Dacula turned into an unexpected laugher Friday night at the Gainesville gym.
The Red Elephants dished out nearly two dozen assists and outrebounded the Falcons 36-16 in taking a dominating 96-74 win in both teams’ region openers.
Gainesville (8-6, 1-0 Region 8-AAAAAA) never trailed while earning its fifth straight win overall. Dacula (7-6, 0-1) had won six of eight coming into the contest.
Gainesville boys coach Benjie Wood said they are zoning in at the moment.
"Everybody is playing very well right now," he said. "Our biggest focus has just been on ourselves and getting better and as a group they are doing a great job of that."
Gainesville jumped out to a 6-2 lead on a KJ Buffen basket but led just 16-12 after the first quarter as Brendan Tucker kept the Falcons close. The Red Elephants began to take control on the glass and on the scoreboard as they used three big stickback baskets to spark a 13-3 run for a 29-15 lead. They would take a 42-29 advantage into halftime.
Tucker shot Dacula within 10 points at 47-37 on five consecutive points but Buffen helped cap an 11-2 run to close out the third quarter for a 66-49 advantage. The Red Elephants poured it on the fourth quarter leading by as many as 25 points on three separate occasions
Buffen finished with 24 points to pace Gainesville. Xavier Bledson added 17 points and Brent Kelly and Jarred Rosser had 9 points each for the Red Elephants.
Tucker finished with a game-high 30 points to lead Dacula. Arusha Hunter added 12 points and Byron Wilson 11 for the Falcons.
Gainesville will travel to Habersham Central on Saturday before heading to a red-hot Lanier team on Tuesday in a pair of key region battles.
DACULA GIRLS 53,
Dacula went 8-for-8 on 3-pointers in the second half to take the Region 8-AAAAAA opener for both teams.
The Lady Falcons (7-7, 1-0 Region 8-AAAAAA) used the 3-point barrage to blow open the game to take a 41-28 lead into the fourth quarter.
In the final period Dacula maintained a 12 to 15-point lead most of the rest of the way as the Lady Red Elephants (5-7, 0-1) went cold in the second half.
The loss was the fourth in five games for Gainesville. Dacula came in having lost five of six but found its stroke to get the win.
Aiyana Hamilton led Dacula with 15 points. Alyssa Criscolo added 11 points for the Lady Falcons.
Tija Blackwell paced Gainesville with 13 points. Kyra Buffen had 11 points for the Lady Red Elephants.