Gainesville wins rivalry game with Eastside

Gainesville forward Kevin Bolen puts up a shot over Eastside defender Barry Johnson on Friday at Santa Fe College.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, January 20, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 12:02 a.m.

A week after watching sophomore starter Isaiah Jackson knocked out for the season with a broken right leg in a loss to Buchholz, Gainesville took on another city rival that also has high state playoff aspirations in a bigger venue Friday night.

With a capacity crowd on hand at Santa Fe College, the Hurricanes got a much-needed boost from senior Calvin Long and sophomore Kevin Bolen, who combined for 29 points, and held the Eastside Rams to just three points in the third quarter for a 53-44 victory.

“Obviously this was a good win and much needed for our team,” said GHS coach Kelly Beckham. “Eastside is a very good basketball team. We did have some guys step up tonight that we really needed them to. I'm very proud of them.”

Tied at the half (22-22), Gainesville outscored the Rams 14-3 in the third, getting 3-pointers from Tim Norman and Michael McCray, to build an 11-point lead heading into the final period.

Eastside got its second field goal of the second half with 6:08 to play, and freshman Eric Turner added another score and hit a free throw to pull the Rams to within four (38-34) with four minutes left. Long's third 3-pointer of the night opened an 11-2 run by the ‘Canes as they took their biggest lead of the game, 49-36, with 1:20 to play.

The Rams' Sir Jackson, who scored 13 of the team's 22 first-half points, had only two points in the second half.

Freshman Ed Porter and Norman both had 10 points for GHS. Turner, who hit a pair of treys in the fourth, had 13 for the Rams.

Long had 10 of his 15 points in the first half, and Bolen finished with 14. The ‘Canes (15-5), ranked No. 5 in Class 6A according to MaxPreps, hit 10 of 13 free throws in the fourth.

“When Isaiah went down, we knew everyone had to step up, especially me as a senior and a leader on the team,” Long said. “We were so amped up before the game. We were very confident going in.”

The Rams (15-4), ranked No. 8 in Class 5A, had upset No. 2 Terry Parker in Jacksonville (51-37) just a week ago. Coach Pop Williams said his team just really struggled offensively in the third against GHS.

“They played a great first half, but for some reason came out flat in the second half,” Williams said of his team. “A lot of shots we put up didn't go in. Calvin Long really stepped up as a senior for GHS. That was a big part of it tonight. Calvin made some plays tonight that I didn't think he could make.”

GHS returns to action Tuesday at Santa Fe while Eastside will play at Belleview. The two teams will face each other again on Feb. 3 at Santa Fe College.

Long believes his team still has the ability to make a deep run in the playoffs.

“When Isaiah went down, it gave us more motivation to do it for him, let alone for ourselves,” Long said. “When we lost to Buchholz, a lot of people thought we were going down. After tonight, I think it shows we still have the drive to win.”

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