Gainesville Girls Hoops Defeats Rival in the Purple Palace
By Curtis Michaud
- Gainesville, FL
A Wednesday night matchup between district rivals ended in a thriller as both teams’ kicked-off their first game of 2022.
The Gainesville Lady Canes defended home court vs. Buchholz, 46-43, extending their winning streak to five games.
Head Coach David Gordon and the Lady Canes avenged their 50-40 road loss against the Lady Bobcats on Nov. 30 after not practicing for nearly half a month.
“We hadn’t played in two weeks so we’re trying to get back together to play basketball,” said Gordon. “Right now, we are trying to get chemistry, trying to get ourselves in control as a team.
The Lady Canes improved to 9-4 on the season, while the Lady Bobcats dropped to 6-8 losing back-to-back games.
Leading the way Gainesville, class of 2023 standout Leyah Houston dropped a double-double scoring a game-high 23 points and 12 rebounds. The 5-foot-11 junior was huge on both ends of the court--especially in the fourth quarter, scoring seven points in the period.
“As a team we really communicated, actually over-communicated which was a great thing that actually helped us get the win today,” said Lady Canes’ junior Ta’Niyah Walker.
Walker added a nice 14 points (including five points in the first quarter) and seven boards.
For the Bobcats, senior guard Emonie McCallum had a terrific floor game driving into the teeth of the Canes defense, making plays for her teammates.
“She is a pass first point guard but I’m trying to get her to shoot the ball more,” said Buchhoz head coach Niya Johnson. “I’m very proud of her. She’s doing awesome being the leader that she’s supposed to be.”
McCallum and freshman guard Jamison Cardwell combined for 22 points.
It was a slow start for the Lady Bobcats as they fell behind 7-0 early in the first quarter. With 2:23 left in the period, McCallum took a Canes defender off-the-bounce, and drove through the paint for the score.
Johnson mentioned a lack of conditioning and practice in the past two weeks which contributed to the slow start for the reigning district champs.
Buchholz's stifling defense and offense picked up in the second quarter as they gained the lead with the help of two triples by Cardwell. They outscored Gainesville 18-10 in the quarter.
Just before the half, Houston took the inbound pass and raced down-court to beat the buzzer with an incredible up-and-under layup. The Lady Bobcats led 22-21 at the half.
“We didn’t capitalize on our layups,” Gordon continued. “We missed about 14 layups and if we had capitalized, I think the game wouldn’t have been as close.”
In the third, Buchholz extended their lead to eight points, and was capped off by a beautiful no-look pass by McCallum to senior center Jayla Lee. The Lady Canes offense picked back up, ending the quarter only down 35-34.
A quick 4-0 spurt by the Lady Canes helped regain the lead in the fourth. However with 4:51 left, a Cardwell triple from the top of the key silenced the crowd, tying the game at 38.
The back-and-forth scoring battle continued, but the Lady Canes made just enough plays late to pull away from the Lady Bobcats. Late free throw shooting by the Canes helped them hold on to the victory.
“It’s not what we wanted, but I thought we fought hard. We have to get in better shape as we return from Covid, but we can’t let that be an excuse,” said Johnson.
Coach Gordon and the Lady Canes look to extend their winning streak on Thursday as they face-off against (7-5) Ocala-West Port at home. With a victory, the Lady Canes promising year continues with a double-digit win season, a feat that has not been accomplish since the 2017-18 season.
Tip-off is set to start at 7 p.m. The Lady Bobcats looks to get back in the winning column at home against (8-9) The Rock School on Thursday at 7 p.m.