Saturday May 25th, 2024 4:40AM

Lanierland boys semifinals: GHS, Bluff set to meet for 64th title

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

GAINESVILLE, Ga. — For Gainesville coach Charlemagne Gibbons, Gainesville’s tougher-than-it-appeared 77-49 win over Flowery Branch on Thursday in the semifinals of the Lanierland tournament showed him plenty.

“I think we’re starting to find the rotations we want but we’re still trying to learn ourselves, “ Gibbons said following a game that saw Branch hang tough for much of the first half. “I saw some things I liked and some we definitely need to improve on.”

And with a gritty Cherokee Bluff squad awaiting in Friday’s finals at Johnson High School, he’s hoping he can discover a few more as they try to defend their title.

“I know we can’t allow their 3-pointer shooters to get going. And we can’t get in foul trouble ,” Gibbons said after watching the Bears grind out another close game victory over North Hall.

Against Branch, Gainesville (2-9) stormed out of the locker room, getting 3-pointers from Brandon Nelson, Luke Nordholz, and another from Nordholz while running out to a 15-1 lead. A Jeremiah Ware free throw for Branch was the only offense the Falcons could muster in the first four minutes as they missed their first four shots with three turnovers.

But unlike the night before against East Hall, the Red Elephants could not shake the Falcons as easily. Flowery Branch finally found some offense as Ware scored five straight points, including a 3-pointer, to pull them within 15-6.

Gainesville did answer with 9 straight points, capped by an Amari Chatman trey, but again the Falcons responded. Ryan Comlin and Ware hit baskets, Ware hit another 3-pointer, and Jordan Hayes scored five straight as part of a 15-4 spurt to get them within 28-20 midway through the second.

Branch got to 31-24 on another Ware trey but Big Red closed out the half on an 11-3 run for a 42-27 lead.

The Falcons once again closed the gap early in the third quarter pulling within 42-29. But the Red Elephants exploded for a 23-9 run into the fourth quarter for a 65-38 advantage to essentially put the game out of reach.

Gibbons said he expects a battle with the Bears as they pursue their first-ever title.

“Those guys play hard, they know how to make plays, and they have a lot of guys that can shoot it,” he said.”We will need to continue to play well to be able to get another win.”

Nelson led Gainesville with 19 points, including 6 3-pointers. Nordholz had 16 with four treys and Chatman and Xavier Griffin each added 10 points for the Red Elephants, who had eight different players score.

Ware finished with 22 points to pace Flowery Branch. Hayes had 13 for the Falcons.


The Bears outscored North Hall 12-9 in overtime to advance to the finals of the 64th Lanierland tournament on Thursday.

The Bears used a 9-0 run in the extra period to rally from a 65-63 deficit and then held on in the final moments for just their second-ever trip to the Lanierland championship game.

Boston Kersh poured in 26 points, including the Bears’ final 5 points, and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead the way. Tanaka Mukono had 11 points and added 7 rebounds, including a crucial stick-back basket in overtime, and 4 steals. Logan Holmes had 18 points and Tyler Underwood had 7 points and dished out 7 assists for the Bears.

Twice North Hall rallied from late deficits of its own, trailing 53-45 with 4:15 left in regulation, and 70-65 in overtime, to push Bluff to the end.

Bluff coach Josh Travis both praised his group’s ability to win the close games but questioned why they continue to make it as difficult as they possibly can. The Bears (9-4) have won seven straight, four by five-points or less, including the first two rounds in Lanierland by just 5 total points.

“These guys are taking years off my life but we have some really good basketball players that are very good competitors,” Travis said. “They have the ability to never be out of a game but at times they’ve also not put some games away that I feel like they should have. But the last two days we also have played two really good teams that fight to the end also.

“I’m pleased where we are but we’ve still got plenty of things to improve on.”

Where they are is in the finals for the first time under Travis and first as a program since 2020. They will get the winner of the Gainesville-Flowery Branch showdown in Friday’s 7:30 p.m. championship game at Johnson.

Travis didn’t seem to care who was his opponent because he says the path to their first-ever title will lie with them.

“We made a lot of mistakes (tonight). Some were forced by good defense and some were not,” he said.”No matter who we play, we will have to do a better job of handling the ball and any (defensive) pressure we see.

“We like to press and practice against that every day. We should be better against pressure than we have been the last two days. We will have to be to have any chance at winning (the title).”

The entire contest was a constant ebb-and-flow. Bluff led 14-11 after the first quarter but fell behind 20-14 on a Micah Jimerson basket before rallying to take a 26-23 halftime lead on a 12-2 run capped by a Holmes 3-pointer.

North Hall retook the lead 31-30 early in the third quarter on a Cole Hulsey jumper and the teams eventually went into the fourth tied at 42. The Bears built the biggest lead of the game at 53-45 on a Mukono lay-in but the Trojans stormed back to tie the game at 60 with 7 seconds to go on two Luke Sanders free throws.

The Trojans raced out to a 65-61 lead on a 3-pointer from Jimerson and two free throws from Andrew Bales. Bluff answered back, however, with a 9-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Holmes and two Kersh free throws. North Hall got within 70-68 on a 3-pointer from Matt Ray and had a chance to sent it to a second OT but Sanders' wild 3-point attempt at the buzzer fell short.

Ray finished with 14 points, all coming in the second half, to pace North Hall. Jimerson added 12, Hulsey had 10, Korbyn Sosebee 9, and Sanders added 7, all in the fourth quarter, for the Trojans.

North Hall will take on the Gainesville-Flowery Branch loser at 4:30 p.m. on Friday at Johnson in the third-place game.


BOYS BRACKET (at Lakeview Academy)
Cherokee Bluff 72, North Hall 69 OT
Gainesville 77, Flowery Branch 49

CONSOLATION BRACKET (at Lakeview Academy)
Lakeview Academy 72, Chestatee 44
East Hall 61, West Hall 57

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Sports, High School Sports, Lanierland Tournament
  • Associated Tags: High school basketball, Gainesville boys basketball, North Hall boys basketball, Flowery Branch boys basketball, Cherokee Bluff boys basketball
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