The Gainesville Hurricanes are moving on to the 6A boys basketball Regional Final. The Canes beat Oakleaf 47-42 after making a miraculous comeback in the fourth quarter.
Oakleaf would score the first points of the game. Theo Stephens got the Hurricanes back on track by controlling the offense and scoring in the very next possession. He would lead the team in points scored for the quarter with six. Oakleaf had a 15-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Josh Hayes had a difficult first half offensively. Although he had zero points in the first two quarters, Hayes was still a menace defensively. The opposition was hesitant to drive into the paint for layups and struggled to grab offensive rebounds due to the center’s presence. Stephens continued his dominance on offense scoring eight points in the second quarter. It still wasn’t enough to take the lead as the Hurricanes trailed 26-23 at halftime.
Other players got involved offensively for Gainesville in the third quarter. With the opening possession, SJ Westbrook knocked down a three-pointer for the Canes. This tied the game at 26 all. Unselfish playmaker Seth Childers knocked down a three-pointer for the Hurricanes to get into the action. Most importantly, Hayes finally introduced himself to the scoresheet and scored his first points of the game. He looked dangerous all quarter and ended it with four points. Even though everyone got involved offensively for the Canes, they still trailed 38-35 heading into the fourth.
The visiting team would be the first to score in the quarter, extending their lead by five points. Jordan Bodie put the team on his back and scored five straight points for the Hurricanes. He tied the game with 4:09 left in the quarter. These important points not only caused the crowd to erupt, but it also gave the Canes the boost they needed to close out the game. With 17 seconds left in the quarter, Gainesville were up by two.
As Oakleaf drove to the basket to tie the game, Josh Hayes made the game-winning play and blocked the opposition’s layup. Theo Stephens found himself with the ball and Oakleaf would have no choice but to foul him in order to stop the clock. He knocked down both free throws and extended the Hurricanes lead by four. As the visitors pushed for one last chance, Seth Childers stole the ball and was immediately fouled. He would only score one of his two free throws, but it wouldn’t matter as the Hurricanes completed the comeback and won the Regional Semifinal 47-42.
Season is Still Alive
At the end of the game, coach Mike Barnes had nothing but praise for his players. When asked about Josh Hayes’ slow start, coach said, “He is still a presence on defense and he’s still rebounding. He’s still an intimidating presence.
“I’m glad he’s here and glad that we don’t have to game plan for him and other teams do.”
Coach Barnes also had high praise for Jordan Bodie. “He stepped up big time. He does a lot of intangible things that don’t show up in the stat book and I was glad he was able to show up in the stat book at the end there.” The five straight points not only tied the game for the Canes but also gave them the boost they needed to win the semifinal. Bodie ended the game with nine points.
The Gainesville Hurricanes are now in the final eight and play Ponte Vedra away for the Regional Final on Friday at 7 p.m. The winner of this game moves on to the State Semifinals in Lakeland, Fla.