Saturday May 25th, 2024 4:47AM

Basketball: Raiders rally for OT win; Lady Red Elephants open 8-6A with win

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

MT. AIRY, Ga. — Desperately looking to avoid an 0-2 hole to start Region 8-6A play, Habersham Central turned to what it does best on Saturday.

Offsetting a dismal shooting night, the Raiders forced 30 Gainesville turnovers, turned those into 16 points, and rallied for a 59-58 win in overtime at home.

“We didn't do a lot of things right tonight, that’s for sure,” Habersham Central coach Tommy Yancey said. “But one thing that I'll give those guys in that locker room credit for, is they continue to find ways to win.

“You don't want to be 0-2 in this region. It just puts you behind the eight-ball, and then you're kind of fighting and scrambling the rest of the way just to get back even. This was really huge for us right now.”

It looked bleak for the Raiders (12-3, 1-1 Region 8-6A) late as they trailed the Red Elephants 53-43 with just 1:14 left. A Josiah McCurry three-point play and then a steal, layup one from Justus Gober within an 8-second span got them turned around.

Brannon Gaines capped off the wild 10-0 finish with a steal and layup with 10 seconds left to eventually send the game to overtime. In the extra period, two more Gainesville turnovers led to baskets, and then, with a chance to tie the game in the waning seconds, the Red Elephants (2-11, 0-1 Region 8-6A) committed their 30th turnover, effectively sealing the game.

“We changed a couple of times to different presses that we were doing, and we found one we had a little bit of success with at the end,” Yancey said. “We want to try to keep people at 52 and under because we feel like if we can get to 52, we give ourselves a chance to win every night.”

Gainesville stormed out to start the game, with Brandon Nelson hitting a 3-pointer and Ellis Pitts and Xavier Griffin adding baskets in the opening two minutes for a 7-0 lead. But the Raiders answered back with an 8-0 run, powered by a pair of baskets from Enzo Combs to take the lead. 

It went to the second quarter tied at 10 and was knotted at 18 before the Red Elephants went on an 8-0 run, capped by a three-point play from Griffin for a 26-18 lead. But again, Hab Central answered, closing out the half on a 4-1 run on two buckets from McCurry, who had 12 in the period, to trail 27-22 at the break.

The Raiders' defense was tough, forcing 12 Gainesville turnovers but for only 6 points, and they were cold from the field, except for McCurry, who was 6-of-8 shooting in the first half.

Gainesville was able to offset the 12 turnovers by going 5-of-10 from 3-point range in the first half, with Nelson hitting three.

Habersham got within 31-29 midway through the third on a steal and layup from Jalen Davis, but baskets by Amari Chatman and Griffin pushed the Gainesville lead back to 37-29.

The Raiders finally found some range to open the fourth as Combs hit their first 3-pointer, snapping an 0-for-8 start, and then hit a second trey a minute later to get them within 39-37.

But Gainesville rebuilt its 10-point lead on a four-point play from Jay Walls, a 3-pointer from Chatman, and two free throws from Pitts. However, the barrage of turnovers proved to be their undoing down the stretch.

McCurry finished with a game-high 23 points for Habersham Central. Combs had 13, 9 coming in the fourth quarter and overtime, and Gober added 9 points, 7 in the second half and overtime.

Griffin paced Gainesville with 17 points. Nelson scored 13 points, and Chatman finished with 10 for the Red Elephants.


The return of Shydrea Maddox could not have come at a better time for the Lady Red Elephants.

The junior forward, who missed the first part of the season, poured in 14 points to complement junior guard Julia Payne’s 21 points as they opened Region 8-6A with a huge road win.

Gainesville (3-8, 1-0 Region 8-6A) broke open a close game with a 15-2 third quarter to take a 39-28 lead into the fourth quarter. Maddox and Payne did all the scoring in the final period, including hitting 4-of-8 free throws to hold off one last Lady Raiders’ push.

Kyia Barrett had 21 points to pace Habersham Central (4-9, 1-1 Region 8-6A).

Mattie White had 10 points for Gainesville.

  • Associated Categories: Sports, High School Sports
  • Associated Tags: High school basketball, Gainesville boys basketball, Gainesville girls basketball, habersham central boys basketball, habersham central girls basketball
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