One of Gainesville’s varsity basketball teams remained in its recent offensive slump, while the other broke out of its during their Region 8-6A doubleheader with North Forsyth on Tuesday at Alumni Gym.
The ultimate results, though, remained similar to what they’ve been for both Red Elephant teams lately.
The Red Elephant boys finally broke a streak of three straight games for scoring at or around 50 points by scoring 77, led by a huge game off the bench from Octavion Demory.
But it wasn’t enough to keep up with the visiting Raiders, who got scorching shooting from 3-point range, plus strong all-around offense from Kal-El Delgadillo and Cole Kirouac. Will Sokol connected on six of the team’s 12 field goals from behind the arc to pull away in the second half for an 88-77 victory that broke the North Forsyth record for points scored.
The arithmetic wasn’t any better for the Gainesville girls, who were overwhelmed by ninth-ranked North Forsyth’s size and quickness on both ends of the court in a 54-25 setback.
Demory scored 22 points and added seven rebounds to help Gainesville’s boys (12-9, 5-4) hold a 31-2 advantage in points off the bench.
That was good enough for them to keep pace, as they traded runs with North Forsyth (13-10, 6-4) through the first two and a half quarters.
However, the Red Elephants simply couldn’t keep matching the damage done by Sokol outside, with 18 of his 21 points coming from 3-point range, the 6-foot-10 Kirouac (17 points, 17 rebounds, 2 blocked shots) inside or Delgadillo (24 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) all over the front court as the Raiders handed them their third loss in the last four games.
“For Will, that’s the best he’s shot the ball all year,” North Forsyth boys coach David Sokol said of his son. “We’ve got guys who can shoot. We shot the ball well (Tuesday), and I though we responded well to some adversity when (Gainesville) made some runs. We hit some free throws (down the stretch), got some rebounds and … that was good.
“It’s a great sign. We’ve been in a lot of close games this year, but haven’t been able to pull (many of) them out. But we hit some free throws down at the end here (Tuesday).”
Gainesville showed plenty of energy by erasing as much as a seven-point deficit late in the first quarter to vault into as much as a 38-30 lead with 2:17 left in the first half, thanks to a big second quarter from Demory, who scored six points in the period, and Cade Simmons, who had nine of his 19 points in the frame.
But Brayden Turner led a 7-2 run over the remainder of the half, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 22 seconds left to cut the Red Elephants’ lead to just 40-37 by the half.
Will Sokol continued that momentum into the early minutes of the second half with a four-point play after connecting on a 3-pointer from the left corner, and adding a free throw after being fouled just 18 seconds into the third quarter.
Turner followed with two free throws, and Delgadillo and Kirouac each added a bucket over the next 50 seconds for a 10-0 run that vaulted North Forsyth back in front at 47-40 with 6:32 left in the period.
Gainesville had an answer with a quick run of its own – an 11-2 spurt over a 2:10 span, keyed by two 3-pointers, a thunderous dunk in transition and a jump hook by Demory – to leapfrog back in front 51-49 after Demory’s second trey with 4:05 left in the quarter.
But Sokol sparked another North Forsyth response with two more 3-pointers from the left corner, a spot in which he hit five of his six shots from behind the arc on the night, which ignited a 14-8 run over the remainder of the period to send the Raiders into the fourth with a 63-56 lead.
The Red Elephants did pull as close as 65-63 with 6:53 left as Simmons capped a 7-2 run to start the final frame with a three-point play on a layup following a spin move in the lane and a foul.
But Kirouac answered with a layup on the next trip down the court, and Delgadillo and Turner followed with 3-pointers to lead an 8-2 run to stretch the lead back to eight at 73-65, and North Forsyth slowly pulled away at the free throw line, where the Raiders finished the night 18 of 22.
Turner joined Sokol, Delgadillo and Kirouac in double-figure scoring for the Raiders with 14 points, as did Braden Mullis, who finished with 10.
Charlie Reisman was the only other Gainesville player in double figures with 10, while Julius Jackson chipped in with eight points and eight rebounds, and Dre Raven contributed six points, five assists and three steals.
The Gainesville girls (18-3, 6-2) managed to stay close throughout the first quarter of the opener, thanks to Keidra Young, who scored the Red Elephants’ first six points, including a jumper from the right wing with 3:25 left in the opening frame to even the score at 6-all.
But they simply had no answer for North Forsyth’s (17-6, 9-1) trio of London Weaver (17 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists), Erin Whalen (12 points) and Lindsey Pirkle (6 points, 4 assists) on either end of the court.
The trio helped clog up the lane to keep the Gainesville guards from penetrating and created 20 Gainesville turnovers, while the triumvirate also got the high-low game going on the offensive end to spark a 16-7 second quarter and a whopping 21-4 advantage in the third to send the Red Elephants to their second defeat in the last three games.
“We played much better defense this time (against Gainesville)," North Forsyth girls coach Brad Kudlas said after completing the season sweep. “The last time (on Jan. 13), we gave up 59 points, but we scored a lot. … The girls are buying in (to the defensive philosophy). At the beginning of the year, we were going to outscore teams. Now we’re, ‘We’ve got to stop them, and we’re going to score.’ That’s been the big difference.
“(The offense is also) starting to click. The guards are buying in, making good passes. The posts are working well together. … Everybody’s buying in.”
Young had a strong game with 15 points, 11 rebounds and three steals, but Gainesville – which has scored a total of just 71 points in the two losses over the past five days, sandwiched around a 66-30 win over last-place Apalachee on Saturday – had trouble finding other sources of offense.
The Red Elephants did get four points, six rebounds and three assists from Keke Jones and four points and seven boards from Shydrea Maddox.