GHS stuns Leesburg in playoffs
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 at 12:25 a.m.
LEESBURG — They say third time’s a charm, but it was the fourth time that was the charm for the Gainesville Hurricanes.
With the stakes at the highest of any of the previous three meetings this season, Gainesville stunned Leesburg, getting 38 points and 10 rebounds from junior forward Isaiah Jackson to eliminate the No. 1 team by MaxPreps in the Class 6A, Region 2 semifinal Tuesday night.
The Hurricanes had lost three to last year’s Class 6A state runner-up Yellow Jackets (26-5) by an average of 20 points, which included a 91-59 setback in the District 5 final 11 days ago.
This time around they were not going to be denied. The ’Canes played with poise and intensity all night long, led by Jackson’s double-double performance.
“We made some changes, and we had six days to prepare,” said Gainesville coach Kelly Beckham. “We got blown out by them previously, and we didn’t want that to happen again. We’ll start working for the regional final.”
Gainesville (20-9) led by as many as 11 points in the first half three times and led 42-36 at the intermission.
In the second half, Leesburg fought its way back though in the third quarter. The Yellow Jackets went on a 17-7 run and took the lead after Quay Royster, who came off the bench, hit a 3-pointer and scored on a layup for a 53-49 Yellow Jackets’ advantage.
From that point on, the ’Canes went on a 15-6 run. Kevin Bolen (20 points) and Jackson both combined for 11 points during the run that gave Gainesville a 64-59 lead early in the fourth quarter, which they never relinquished.
A Bolen dunk put the ’Canes up 66-61 with 1:46 remaining in the contest.
Leading 66-63, Gainesville had to make free throws in a bizarre sequence to clinch the game, which Leesburg added to the ’Canes fortune by being rung up with technical fouls that gave the ’Canes more chances at the stripe. Jackson made four of six free throws to give GHS a 70-63 cushion with 27.1 seconds remaining. Jackson was sent to the line four more times and converted, capping the scoring at 74-66, which was the final score.
Jackson was sent to the line 30 times and converted 26 of those free throws. Gainesville went 32-for-39 at the charity stripe for the game. Jackson scored 13 of his 18 first-half points in the first quarter, which gave the ’Canes confidence as a unit.
Eric Turner added eight points, including two critical free throws. that gave GHS a 60-57 lead and followed with another basket after Mike McCray fed him underneath with a beautiful assist for a 62-57 lead with about four minutes remaining.
Leesburg was led by point-guard Marcus Dodson (12 points) and he drew two important charges in Leesburg’s comeback. Undra Mitchem (12 points) and Jabari Dunham (11 points, 3 steals) also finished in double-figures for the Yellow Jackets.
“We played hard, and everybody showed up to give us support,” Jackson said. “We played good as a unit.”
“We came out and played hard,” Bolen said. “We came out as a team and pulled it out.”