Victory was seemingly in reach for the Winder-Barrow High School boys’ basketball team Tuesday, Jan. 28, but visiting Gainesville suddenly gained the late momentum to cap off a come-from-behind win.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Red Elephants had claimed a 53-47 GHSA Region 8-AAAAAA victory. Bulldogg coach Travis McDaniel studied the scorebook and stat sheet following the game and could only ponder what might have been on this night.
“Our effort was good enough,” McDaniel said. “We executed our game plan well. We had multiple chances to stretch our lead but missed free throws really hurt us.”
While WBHS (15-9, 5-4 region) was 11-of-23 from the foul line, Gainesville (11-12, 7-2) was just a little better at 14-of-22, including 8-of-11 in the fourth quarter.
“There’s the difference right there,” McDaniel said.
The Bulldoggs took a 35-32 lead into the fourth quarter but the two teams would exchange the lead five times in the final eight minutes. The Red Elephants took a 46-44 lead with 1:15 remaining and would not relinquish it.
A 3-pointer by Tyreek Perkins with 16 seconds left pulled WBHS to within 49-47 but the Bulldoggs would not get any closer.
Gainesville closed out the win and the game going 4-of-4 from the foul line in the final 14 seconds.
Perkins led WBHS with 19 points while Cam Stillwell added 9 and Isaiah Nelson-Ododa added 8 points. Tim Loud finished with 6 points.
“The refs let the game be physical,” McDaniel said. “I really thought they were hammering Isaiah, but sometimes when you are as tall as he is you don’t get calls.”
Winder-Barrow still has a chance to claim the No. 3 seed from 8-AAAAAA for the upcoming region tournament. The Bulldoggs will travel to Dacula High School on Friday, Jan. 31, for a 7:30 p.m. matchup.
“We definitely want that third seed,” said McDaniel, who is in his first season with the WBHS program. “We think that would give us a great chance to qualify for the state tournament.”
While disappointed with loss to Gainesville, McDaniel said the players will need to refocus since there is still plenty to play for.
The WBHS boys defeated region foe Habersham Central 58-45 on Friday, Jan. 24. Perkins had 14 points and 7 rebounds in the win while Nelson-Ododa added 13 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Loud contributed 11 points against Habersham Central.