GAINESVILLE — Julio Santana hit a layup with just 0.5 seconds left to lift the Gainesville boys to a thrilling come-from-behind 69-67 win over Dacula Saturday night in a key early Region 8-6A battle at the Gainesville gym.
Santana's basket capped a big second half for the Red Elephants (10-7, 2-0 Region 8-6A) who outscored the Falcons (3-11, 1-1) 39-31 over the final two periods.
The win, the sixth straight for the Red Elephants, puts them atop the early region standings just ahead of Lanier (9-6, 1-0). Gainesville next will play host to Apalachee (6-7, 0-1) on Tuesday.
Dacula led an early back-and-forth affair 14-12 after the first quarter. The Faclons increased the lead to 36-30 by halftime as they held Gainesville guards Rafael Rubel, Brent Kelly, and Maurice Hector to just 2 combined points. But Datavian Buffington picked up the slack with 12 first half points to keep the Red Elephants close.
Gainesville exploded in the third quarter outscoring Dacula 24-11 in the frame as Rubel, Kelly, and Hector combined for 8 points and Buffington added 11 for a 54-47 Red Elephants lead. But the Falcons responded behind Mekhail Bethea and Camron Carithers, who combined for 16 points in the fourth quarter to tie the game late before Santana's buzzer-beater.
Gainesville also outrebounded Dacula 41-28 for the game.
DACULA GIRLS 75,
The Lady Red Elephants had no answer for Dacula's Lazaria Spearman, who poured in 18 points and pulled down 15 rebounds to lead the Lady Falcons (13-3, 2-0 Region 8-6A) to the region win on the road.
Dacula jumped out to a quick 16-7 lead and took a 39-17 advantage into the intermission. The Lady Falcons increased heir lead to 57-30 heading into the final period.
Tia Shelton paced Gainesville (9-6, 1-1) with 17 points but leading scorer Tija Blackwell was held to just 11 points and only three field goals and no 3-pointers.
Kendall Bollmer had 17 points for Dacula.