GHS hoops slips by Eastside

Published: Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 9, 2009 at 11:55 p.m.

Friday night was not a perfect evening for Gainesville coach Kelly Beckham as the veteran coach, who spent the previous 24 years at Bronson, got his first taste of the GHS versus Eastside basketball rivalry.

In front of a packed house at Santa Fe College, the Hurricanes got off to a slow start and trailed for just over three quarters of play during the intra-city and District 4-5A clash. The Hurricanes also received a major blow midway through the third period as leading scorer Gregg Gantt, a Florida Atlantic signee, suffered what Beckham said was a mild concussion and did not return.

Regardless, GHS received 14 points from Anthony Nwadigo and 11 points and 10 rebounds from T.J. Hall to pull out a 48-41 victory over Eastside.

“We didn’t seem to come out with a level of energy for this type of game and atmosphere,” Beckham said. “But with that being said I’m very proud of our guys for fighting through it and finding ways to win anyway.”

Eastside led 7-6 after the first quarter and with 1:13 left in the second period Jerrod Owens nailed his second 3-pointer of the game to give the Rams (11-5, 5-1) their biggest lead of the game, 26-18. But a 6-0 run from the Hurricanes (12-3, 5-0) to close out the quarter made a two-point affair at the break.

Hall’s banker tied the game at 26-26 to start the third quarter as both clubs went back and forth before GHS carried a slim 34-33 edge into the final eight minutes of action. Eastside’s Dennis Mavin (14 points) sunk a pair of free throws with 7:36 remaining to give the Rams what would be their last lead of the night, 35-34.

Matt Huber, who scored nine points in extended playing time due to Gantt’s injury, drained a 3-pointer as did Thomas Laerke to key an 8-2 spurt as GHS went ahead 42-37 with just over five minutes left to play. But the Rams hung around and trailed just 45-42 after Harold Hoskins rebounded his own missed foul shot with under a minute to go. However, Ceasar Wright’s 3-point attempt from the right corner hit the side of the backboard and was rebounded by Huber. The senior reserve guard hit both of the ensuing free throws to ice the win for the third-ranked Hurricanes before Hall added another foul shot with 11 seconds left to provide the final margin.

“It obviously says that we have a lot of weapons and we just have to utilize them and play together and obviously it is a big loss going down the stretch without Gregg,” said Beckham, whose club is in the district driver’s seat.

“But I’m real proud of the other guys for pulling together and getting it done.”

The coach said he believes Gantt will be available for today’s game against Ocala West Port at the Bobcat Shootout. Gantt landed hard and hit his head on the floor during a drive to the basket in the third quarter.

“We don’t think it is anything serious, but I didn’t want to take a chance of putting him back in the game,” said Beckham. “It was fun, I just wished we could have performed at a higher level and hopefully next time out we will. But I’ll take the W.”

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