GAINESVILLE — The top seed and No. 3 seed in the Lanierland boys tournament held serve Tuesday, setting up a battle between Gainesville and Cherokee Bluff in the championship game Wednesday night.
A 43-11 Gainesville run, including 25 straight points, paced the Red Elephants to a fifth straight Lanierland championship appearance Tuesday as they defeated Chestatee, 87-53, in the semifinals.
Robert Reisman paced the Red Elephants with 16 points and Ced Nicely added 14 in the win.
"The past couple of games it's been a different guy every night, and I think that lends to doing a lot of different things in practice and a lot of individual work," Gainesville coach Chuck Graham said. "Everything is rounding into shape right now -- I like where we are. We still have to clean up some turnovers and defend a little better -- especially the 3-point line. But I kind of like the direction that we're going in."
Chestatee came out red hot, taking a 15-9 lead on the back of three threes from Peyton Phillips. Gainesville finally settled in, using their pressure and fast-break opportunities to go on their massive spurt that spanned nearly 11 minutes of game time. Phillips finished with 12 points, all from the 3-point line.
"Chestatee is well-coached," Graham said. Coach [Josh] Travis does a good job with those kids, and I knew they would come out with energy. They just shot the ball extremely well in the first quarter. So, it actually made us have to lock back in and play. It was nothing that we were doing. I think they just came out with more energy and we had to match it."
Hugh Pruitt led the War Eagles with 15 points.
Up 28 at the half, the Red Elephants and War Eagles traded buckets with Gainesville extending its lead to as many as 41 points in the second half to cruise into a matchup with Cherokee Bluff in the championship game.
The championship game pits former Gainesville coach and current Cherokee Bluff coach Benjie Wood against his former assistant Graham. Graham says the game has already "instantly turned into a rivalry."
"I think it's good for the community and the kids," he said. "All of these kids have played against each other for while, and Coach Wood and I coached together, so I love those guys. We're looking forward to a great contest and competing."
The matchup also will feature a possible epic battle between Bluff big man 6-foot-9 Corey Thomas and Gainesville bigs Ced Nicely (6-foot-5) and Samir King (6-foot-7).
"Corey has improved a lot," Graham said. "I've seen his improvement in the rebounding aspect of his game. I think it's going to be a good challenge for us. Ced and Samir King have been working. I'm looking forward to seeing that matchup tomorrow."
Chestatee will take on North Hall in the third-place game Wednesday evening.
CHEROKEE BLUFF 62,
NORTH HALL 39
A 15-0 run to start the game was all Cherokee Bluff boys needed as they coasted past North Hall, 62-39, Tuesday evening in the first Lanierland boys' semifinal.
"I'm really proud of our kids," Bluff coach Benjie Wood said. "We challenged them to come out and play with a lot of intensity and play together and they did that today."
The run was paced by Corey Thomas, who scored seven of the first eight points for the Bears. Cherokee Bluff led 19-3 after the first quarter before going on a 15-6 run in the second period to stretch their lead to 25 at the break.
"Corey is our leader," Wood said. "He set the tone for us tonight. He's the anchor of our defense and does a great job of rebounding the ball. He's getting a lot more comfortable getting inside, posting up and finishing inside."
The Trojans never backed down as Cole Ellis hit back-to-back threes early in the second half to trim the lead down before Bluff went on another 14-3 run to extend the lead to 36 at the end of the third period.
Thomas and Shad Dabney paced the Bears with 16 points each, while Dre Raven contributed 12 points. Ellis led North Hall with nine points.
The Bears will take on the winner of Gainesville and Chestatee in the championship game Wednesday night. The Trojans will battle the loser of the same game for third earlier in the day Wednesday.
"It's going to be a war ... it's going to be a tough game," Wood said about the title game. "We need to continue to play focused and rebound the ball. We rebounded the ball well tonight."
EAST HALL 67,
WEST HALL 60
East Hall used a 15-4 run in the third quarter to take the lead for good and rally past West Hall 67-60 in the consolation round of the Lanierland Tournament on Tuesday at Gainesville High School.
The Vikings fell behind by halftime, 30-36, but Christian Torres, Zach Kinsey and Clete Cooper fueled the third-quarter spurt with nine straight points to tie the game.
Torres led the Vikings with 13 points, while Cooper finished with 10 and Darius Holcomb added 11, nine points from the free throw line. Chase Reed was the game-high scorer with 15 points for the Spartans.
Cooper extended the Vikings' lead to their largest, 59-48 with 3:02 left in the game. The Spartans tried to mount a comeback behind Reed and Noah LeGault, both combined for 13 of the Spartans' 20 fourth-quarter points.
East Hall will play Lakeview in the 5th place game on Wednesday, while West Hall automatically earns 7th place because of the Johnson forfeit.