GHS rally falls short vs. Buchholz

Buchholz’s Mariah Harris shoots against a Gainesville defender on Thursday.

Max Reed/Correspondent
Published: Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 2, 2011 at 12:14 a.m.

It doesn’t matter what the sport, whenever Buchholz and Gainesville High get together, no lead is safe.

And so it was Thursday night, at a packed Purple Palace, where the visiting Bobcat girls basketball team saw its 14-point lead totally evaporate in the third period as the Bobcats briefly trailed their rivals. But just when it looked like the Hurricanes were back in it, Buchholz seized control.

The Bobcats used a 13-0 run, with center Kimberly Sinisterra scoring eight of her 17 points in the fourth, as Buchholz knocked off Gainesville, 79-70, in the only meeting between the two schools this season.

Buchholz (6-1), a Class 5A final four team a year ago, has four starters back from last year, losing only The Sun’s Big School Player of the Year in Jessica Goble. But senior guard Tori Baggett, a backup a year ago, did just fine with 19 points and three 3-pointers, sharing team-high scoring honors with senior forward Mariah Harris. Junior guard Jessica Thomas tossed in 18 points.

“I think we play them better here than at our place,” said Buchholz coach Rebecca Williams. “The rivalry of this game sets the tone. She (Baggett) has been hustling like crazy this season. She is always at the right place at the right time.

“We play a very intense defense. That’s my goal. We need to be the better defensive team because, at the end, the better defensive team is going to win.”

Buchholz jumped on GHS (4-1) early, leading 19-10 after the first and building an 11-point lead at the half at 42-31, holding ’Canes’ top scorer De’Ja McPhee in check with eight points. Kayla Bivins, the Class 6A Volleyball Player of the Year and an outstanding inside post player last year for GHS, is not playing this season and watched Thursday’s game from the stands.

“We needed to settle down and play Gainesville High basketball,” GHS coach David Gordon said about the first half. “We needed to start playing like we practiced and not let them dictate what we do.”

The ’Canes turned the game around in the third, with McPhee leading the charge. The junior guard scored 10 of her game-high 23 points during a 17-2 GHS run, turning a three-point play that put the ’Canes ahead for the first time at 50-49. Nancy Johnson’s basket gave GHS its biggest lead at three (56-53), but then Buchholz answered.

A 3-pointer by Baggett and six inside points from Sinisterra fueled a 13-0 run for a 66-56 Bobcat lead.

On Saturday at 3 p.m., Buchholz will host unbeaten Viera (8-0), a team the Bobcats could be seeing down the road in the state playoffs. GHS returns to action Tuesday night in Ocala against District 5-6A rival Vanguard.

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